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Full text of "The life of St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi : Florentine noble, sacred Carmelite virgin"

i 




A. M. D. G. 



Smsa s iOihrary 



387 BRUNSWICK 

TORONTO. CAN. 



PHE9ENTHD BY 



CHI 

BIB^HIS 







THE LIFE AND WORKS 



..OF.. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



ILLUSTRATED. 




Statue of the Saint in St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi s i Italian ) Church, 
Philadelphia. 



THE LIFE 

F. 

OF 



St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi 

FLORENTINE NOBLE 

* -* 

SACRED CARMELITE VIRGIN 

Compiled by the REV. PLACIDO FABRINI 



TO WHICH ARE ADDED HER WORKS, A NARRATION OF THE MIRACLES 

WROUGHT THROUGH HER INTERCESSION DOWN TO OUR DAYS 

AND PRAYERS FOR THE NOVENA IN HER HONOR 

je ji ji 

Translated from the Florentine Edition of J852 
and Published by the 

E 

REV. ANTONIO ISOLERI, Miss. Ap. 

Rector of the new St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi s Italian Church, Philadelphia, Pa., U.3^4 

PART I. 

Enriched with New Illustrations together with the Reproduction 
of those in the Original Work 

Jl Jl Jl 

PHILADELPHIA 
J900 

35949 



obstat. 

J. F. LOUGHLIN, D. D., 

Censor Librorum. 



5mpritnttit\ 

* P. J. RYAN, 

Archiepiscopus Philadelphiensis. 



PHILADELPHIA, iij Non. Martii, 1900. 



Zo-7 



COPYRIGHT, 1900, BY REV. A. ISOLERT. 



LORETTO BRUNSWICK CONVEN T 




o tfie tfien modest and amiaSfe Soy, 

tfie dear friend of fas youtfi in Savona f 

tfie faitKfnf S)iscipfe of St. Vincent de $aut 9 

tfie devoted Son of St. (fosepn Cafasantius, 

tfie zeabus $isnop of &ontremoG, 



lfoo^o 



raised to tfie J^rcfiiepiscopaf See of St. Jjnionine 

in tile no6[e city of ^Florence, 
c&fRere our great and glorious Carmefite Saint 

c&as Born, Cived, and died, 

and Wnere fier sacred Remains, stiff incorrupt^ 

are venerated, 

tKis fflor^ 

is respectfutty and affect ionatefy dedicated 
6y tfie translator, 

ntonlo I?olepi. 



ACCEPTANCE OF THE DEDICATION. 



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TRANSLATION OF LETTER OF MONS* MISTRANGELO, 
ACCEPTING THE DEDICATION. 



(Rev. Antonio Isoleri, Ap. Miss., 

Rector of the New St. M. M. De-Pazzfs Italian Church, 

710 Montrose {formerly Marriott ) Street, Philadelphia, Pa. , U. S. A. 

Yen. and (Dearest Friend : 

I return endless thanks to you for 

your loving thought of dedicating to me your translation of the 
"Life of St. Mary Magdalen (De-fpazzi." 

(By this new token of good=will not only do you tighten the 
sweet bonds of the old friendship which bind me to you, but you 
compel me from henceforth to address special prayers to the 
Seraphic Florentine Virgin, that she may bless and prosper 
your apostolic labors in that Italian Church dedicated to her 
glorious name. 

This I shall do with a sense of gratitude, and, prostrated 
at the altar where the Saint, among the lilies and the roses, 
seems still to rest in the arms of the angels after one of her 
paradisiacal ecstasies, I will beseech her to smile upon you from 
heaven, to protect those people who venerate and love her so 
much, and to embalm, with the perfume of her virtues, the 
hearts of all, enamoring all of Jesus Christ. 

And these very pious but poor (Religious, so often relieved in 
their poverty by the generous charity of (Rev. A. Isoleri, will 
unite with me in prayers and good wishes and will obtain 
for you, from the Lord, a very ample reward. 

Whilst wishing you every heavenly blessing, I again 
tender to you the most lively thanks for the undeserved honor 
you are doing me, and I again declare myself, with sentiments 
of loving esteem, 

Your most devoted 

* ALFONSO MARIA MISTRANGELO, 

Archbishop. 
Florence, March ist, igoo. 



THE TRANSLATOR TO THE READER. 



I undertake the translation of " The Life and Works of St. Mary 
Magdalen De-Pazzi," by the Rev. Placid o Fabrini, for the honor of God 
and of his servant, St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi ; and, chiefly, to obtain, 
through her intercession, two graces one of which is, that I may be 
able to build a new church under her invocation, to replace the present 
one, which is old, small, and poorly constructed. 1 

May the necessary light and strength be given to me, so that I 
shall succeed in accomplishing what I now begin in the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. 

With all but a certainty of not being able to do full justice to the 
original, and without reflecting on the judgment of translators and 
publishers, or calling their taste into question, and much less with 
a view to making comparisons between Saints, but mindful only of 
A Kempis advice : " Noli etiam inquirere nee disputare de meritis 
Sanctorum, quis alio sit sanctior, aut quis major fuerit in regno co3lo- 
rum" (L/ib. iii, cap. Iviii, 2) "Do not inquire nor dispute about the 
merits of the Saints, which of them is more holy than the other, or 
which is the greater in the kingdom of heaven;" I may be allowed 
to state here that many Lives of Saints/ have of late been translated from 
the Italian and other languages into English, and published in this 
country, which are not half so interesting or edifying as, I confidently 
hope, this will be found to be, not only by Religious, but by all Christians. 

Once for all, I beg an indulgent judgment of this translation and 
its poor English, in view of the good object and the good will employed 
to secure it. The original is certainly grand ; and, did we but know 
that another pen was, or soon would be, at work translating it, we 
would immediately drop our own, thank the Lord, and repent of our 
presumption. 2 

1 The work of building the new church, a new parochial house, and a school, 
together with the constantly increasing work imposed by the extraordinary tide of 
immigration, compelled the interruption of this translation for several years ; whilst what 
was done of it could only be done now and then, at long intervals. The church having 
been completed one of the graces asked we have endeavored to complete the work 
and publish it, in fulfillment of our intention and vow. (1898.) 

2 And, had the magnificent edition of "The Life and Ecstasies of St. M. M. De-P." 
by the Sisters of her Order and Monastery, come out sooner, we would, without doubt, 
have given it the preference. It was issued, Florence, 1893. 

7 



8 THE TRANSLATOR TO THE READER. 

We earnestly hope that persons living in the world Protestants 
as well as Catholics besides Religious, will read this Life, because we 
are firmly convinced that it will do all of them some good. They will 
find in it much to admire, much to edify them. There is something 
for all to imitate. Through it, our dissenting brethren will know our 
religion better, and, let us hope, like it more. Who knows, but that 
such a grand tableau of Catholic sanctity as is presented to them in the 
Life of St. M. M. De-P., who lived at a time when " the utter degeneracy 
and corruption" of the Catholic Church was so loudly proclaimed and 
made a by-word and a pretext for a notable and noble part of Catholic 
Europe to separate from her bosom, may not only win their admiration, 
but also draw them into the fold, to become, as their forefathers were, 
children of that Church which alone is the Mother of Saints, which 
alone can lead them to salvation ; so that they, one day, may sing with 
us : u Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine virtutum ! concupiscit et 
deficit anima mea in atria Domini" " How lovely are thy tabernacles, 
O Lord of Hosts ! my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the 
Lord " (Ps. Ixxxiii). 

ANTONIO ISOLERI, AP. Miss., 

Rector of St. M. M. De.PSs Italian Church. 
PHILADELPHIA, July ist, 1881. 



INTRODUCTION. 



In consequence of many requests for the " Life of St. Mary Mag 
dalen De-Pazzi," which could not be met on account of the scarcity of 
copies still extant, 1 the importance of supplying this want was felt by 
many, and some were about to have another edition issued, when, being 
spoken to by one of them, I, though the least skilled in the literary 
art, very gladly undertook with all possible speed to write a work so 
dear to my heart. 

Repeating faithfully all that is believed to have been done by the 
Saint, gathering all that the writers of her life said that is interesting, 
and bringing to light unedited documents, with notes for their better 
understanding, I hope to have satisfied the desire not only of devout 
persons, but of those who will value this as an historical work. 

I will say, moreover, that, as all the lives of Saints embrace two 
parts the one that we may imitate and the other admire therefore 
their publication tends principally to produce these two relative effects, 
the second of which is a consequence of the first. If we read them 
without having in us at least a portion of that foundation from which 
they were reared to the apex of virtue, the wonderful part especially 
will become for us the mysterious volume under seal which human 
wisdom will try to penetrate in vain. Here is the school of the Gospel, 
here is the science of God ; and, to profit by it, one must approach it 
with a humble and pure heart. The proud and worldly man finds in 
it all impossibility, all darkness, and in his wickedness and ignorance 
he sometimes goes so far as to deny that God could be so good as to 
communicate Himself to His creatures in a manner so wonderful. L,et 
us read with faith and humility the achievements of those who knew 
how to sanctify their lives ; let us walk with them along the path of 
virtue, and then we will not wonder at the prodigious blessings God 
granted them. The Gospel in practice, the gifts of God as a reward ; 
behold all in the lives of the Saints. 

For the first, in all the lives of the Saints we find something to 
learn, no matter what our social position is. True virtue is common to 

1 In ten years I could not procure a copy of this "Life" in English, except a very 
small sketch taken from Butler s "Lives of Saints," printed by Henry McGrath, 
Philadelphia, and the loan of the Life of our Saint by Father Cepari, an English edition 
out of print. Note of the Translator. 

9 



10 INTRODUCTION. 

all. From the example of St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi, not only per 
sons who, like her, live consecrated to God in the cloister, but all others, 
can derive benefit. Model of sanctity, she was a teacher of it, and by 
her example encouraged it in all states of life. Separated from the 
world, buried in her monastery, she teaches that Religion, having appar 
ently in view the happiness of the life to come, promotes at the same 
time in the best way the happiness of the temporal life. As a sufficient 
proof of the efficacy of her example, it will suffice to point out the pecul 
iar characteristic by which she is distinguished even among the most 
perfect souls that of her most ardent desire to suffer, which made her 
so often repeat, " Non mori, sed pati" "Let me suffer and not die." Our 
utmost care is to avoid the sufferings of our mortal career, but as they 
are inevitable, our distress and in the sight of God often our faults, 
too, are doubled by our being at permanent war with ourselves. Man is 
born to suffer, as birds to fly. His life on earth is a contrast, a combat, 
a struggle. As man gets strong and able to carry his cross, he advances 
equally in perfection. The cross is the seal of virtue. Thus, our Saint 
renounced every delight, not only of earth, but also of heaven. No 
adversity could trouble her ; nay, the more the pain, the greater the joy 
of her heart ; so that, having vanquished the world and conquered the 
flesh, she did not see nor know aught but her God crucified, for whom 
she became enraptured with love. Oh ! if but a spark of that divine 
love which filled her would penetrate our hearts, how much more justly 
would we value the vanities of the world and the ignominies of the 
cross ! But our self-love is too strong an obstacle ; let us divest our 
selves of some of it, at least, to please God ; and He, being so solicitous 
for our welfare, will not fail to give us a foretaste of the sweetness and 
amiability of the science of the Saints ; by progressing in which our 
intellect will apprehend those ideas and immutable hopes which acquire 
no value from human conversations, depend not upon a passing opinion, 
suit all needs and circumstances, the days of prosperity and those of 
adversity, .and, being at once our encouragement and our guide, they 
alone form the hero of humanity. Profane histories give us but deeds 
of ambition, of despotism, based nearly always on the ruin of others ; 
whilst Religion shows us, in her Saints, the triumph of sacrificing 
self for the benefit of others. We will see in our Saint, how, having 
attained to the sublime observance of the first precept, " Love God 
above everything," she knew with equal perfection how to fulfill the 
second, which is like to it, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" Always 
seeing in her neighbor the image and the child of God, she fulfilled one 
precept by the practice of the other. There is no better argument than 
this by which to know the true lovers of God. While this is an indis- 



INTRODUCTION. 1 1 

pensable duty for us all, it must at the same time be admitted tliat the 
fulfilling of it is oftentimes very hard, and demands of us magnanimous 
sacrifices. That neighbor whom we must love as ourselves, is not infre 
quently an indiscreet person, turning upon us the malice of his tongue ; 
an odious rival, raising himself at our expense ; a false friend, who 
betrays our confidence ; perhaps our neighbors are impious men, who 
live by doing harm daily to their fellow-men. And we must love 
them ; this is the new commandment which Jesus Christ sanctioned 
by His death on the cross. Our obligation is binding, and the fulfilling 
of it is all the law. From which it will evidently appear how impor 
tant is the reading of this history, which offers the most valuable 
stimulus to practice these virtues, and thus to attain perfect rectitude 
of spirit. 

In the second place, there were very many wonderful traits in 
St. M. M. De-P. She might be called, with good reason, the Seraphic, 
the Ecstatic of the Carmel, as her spirit was almost continually rapt 
in ecstasy and led to contemplate and enjoy the most sublime perfec 
tions of the Godhead. Now, Christian admiration for this must pro 
ceed from a state of the soul excited by lively faith in the all-powerful 
goodness of God, who operates in a supernatural manner on the nothing 
ness of the human creature. From this will spring a greater fervor to 
adore, serve, and love so good a God. No one should doubt the truth of 
the marvelous things contained in this book, as I will relate neither fact 
nor saying which has not been examined in the processes of her beati 
fication and canonization ; and so the conscience of all believers may be 
at rest. The wonderful graces obtained afterwards, and herein narrated, 
have been examined and approved by learned theologians deputed to 
investigate by ecclesiastical superiors. This should be sufficient to 
secure the assent of every prudent man. It may be well to add here, 
that the Saint, being very near death, asserted that " all she had said in 
ecstasy or privately, or related to the Sisters under obedience, had been 
the pure action of the Holy Ghost, not interspersed with anything of 
her own interest." The truth of this assertion appears even on the 
strength of human reasoning alone. In fact, a maiden who knew no 
more than what was needed by a simple nun, could not have explained 
the most sublime mysteries of our holy faith with such profound doc 
trine as she did, unless directed immediately by supernatural light. If, 
in reading, you sometimes find repeated in one part what has already 
been said in another, it must be observed that, in the Life, all those 
ecstasies were related which it did not seem proper to separate. Some 
were, in the order of the history, hinted at, which are afterwards related 
more at length in the Works. As the Saint had different ecstasies on 



12 INTRODUCTION. 

the same subjects, it is probable that she said the same or similar things 
several times. The ecstasies are faithfully described as spoken or related 
by the Saint. The periods interposed denote the longer or shorter 
pauses she made during the spiritual excesses. In this book will also 
be found some revelations she had, contrary to the opinions of some 
theologians, which discordance need not surprise, because private reve 
lations have no more weight than a mere opinion. Such is the judg 
ment of the Catholic Church on the revelations of the Saints ; so that 
the Church never intends to raise them, with her approbation, above 
probability. And I here profess my particular submission to the 
same Church, fully complying with the Bull of the Sovereign Pontiff 
Urban VIII in regard to the virtues, miracles, and everything else 
superhuman of which mention is made in this book. 

The letters of St. M. M. De-P. which are appended, are scarce in 
number, because the Saint was very much opposed to receiving and 
answering letters. She experienced great aversion to entering into 
confidential relations, even spiritually, with any person whatsoever ; 
and when she brought herself to write, she was induced thereto by 
obedience to her superiors. But the few letters we have breathe the 
fire of divine love into the soul, and are in themselves rich with the 
best and most efficacious lessons. In the simplicity of their style they 
secretly bear the mark of the unction of the Holy Ghost, and work 
miraculous changes in the hearts of their readers. Finally, one can see 
in them the character of her who composed them, and the fervor of her 
who wrote them. 

The entire book is divided into two volumes : the first contains the 
L,ife and Miracles of the Saint ; the second, all the Works, that is, 
those productions of her spirit which we find in existence. Read 
these pages, faithful Christian, to instruct thyself in piety and to excite 
thy heart to devotion towards a Saint noble by blood, nobler by virtue, 
simple by study, but very learned in the school of the spirit ; to whom 
her most adorable Spouse, Jesus Christ, was a teacher. Here, reader, 
thou wilt find all that is necessary to fulfill those duties which every one 
owes to God, his neighbor, and himself. Practice with fidelity these 
useful teachings, and thou wilt become just, humane, charitable, a good 
citizen, and a fervent Christian. L,ive up to the exhortations given by 
St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi, and to what she herself practiced, and 
thou wilt be happy on earth and blessed in heaven. 

P. FABRINI. 



The Life of St. Mary Magdalen De-PattL 




CHAPTER L 

OF THE PARENTS, BIRTH, AND INFANCY OF 
ST. MARY MAGDALEN. 



JN the city of Florence, prolific and happy mother of children 
praiseworthy for all kinds of virtue, two most noble fami 
lies, the De-Pazzi and the Buondelmonti, enjoy a most 
honorable rank for antiquity and nobility of blood, because 
for many centuries they have counted among their ancestors 
men remarkable in arms and letters. In the year of our 
Lord 1559, these two families were united by the marriage 
of Camillo di Geri De-Pazzi and Maria di Lorenzo Buon 
delmonti ; and as they were of equal nobility of blood, so were they 
also similar in nobility of mind and love of Christian piety. They 
lived in the perfect harmony of conjugal affection, without any quarrel 
on account of domestic differences. They honored one another with 
reciprocal respect, and foremost in the economy of their family was the 
piety and the fulfillment of all duties to God which they exacted from 
their servants, and the benevolence they always exhibited towards each 
and all of them. On account of their goodness, the nobility of their 
conduct, and the affability of their conversation, they were not only 
beloved by their servants, but honored as models by the other families 
in Florence. In fact, from their house were banished plays and worldly 
pastimes ; frequenting the sacraments on all festivals was commanded ; 
uniting together to hear the word of God and visiting the churches 
were the usual employments of that devout family. It pleased God that 
from such pious parents a child should be born who would shed im 
mortal lustre on her parentage ; the splendor of whose lofty sanctity 
increased the glory of the fatherland ; and who is now a star of primary 
magnitude in the illustrious Carmelite Order. Even during preg 
nancy her mother had reason to foresee what precious fruit she was to 
give to the world ; because she never felt the labors and annoyances 
usually inseparable from that state. Thus peacefully progressing in it 
to perfection, on the 2d of April, 1566, she happily gave birth to the 

13 



14 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

seraphic virgin Mary Magdalen, who, the following day, was born again 
spiritually unto God by holy baptism in the Oratory of St. John the 
Baptist in Florence. The sponsors were Pandolfo Strozzi and Fiammetta 
Minorbetti, both Florentine nobles. The name of Catherine was given 
to the child, and perhaps not without a divine dispensation ; because, 
in celestial favors and virtuous deeds, she was to be very much like 
St. Catherine of Siena, towards whom she had a particular devotion 
all her life. Soon after the birth of the child, the mother began to 
notice the excellent character of Catherine, as during her infancy she 
caused none of the trouble which nearly all children give to those who 
nurse them ; nay, her mother felt as much delight in doing this as if she 
were feeding an angel in the flesh. In all this the mother used to take 
great pleasure, and justly so ; she was wont to speak of it to her rela 
tions and other persons, who have left formal testimony of it. As the 
little girl was happily developing, the nature of her character manifested 
itself in the best and rarest ways. One could easily guess, even at that 
early age, what she would be when adult. She had a most beautiful 
mind and a singular brilliancy of talent. This was not joined, though 
as often happens to a certain impulsiveness of nature that finds vent 
in insolence of manners, affected gestures, and the continuous motion 
of the body, but was rather coupled with such modesty and meekness 
as to make her appear serious and majestic, like a lady of advanced age. 
She was the admiration of all ; and the girls of her condition, especially, 
who sometimes used to be with her, had great respect for her, and pro 
posed her to themselves as an example. Within sight of her, they did 
not dare to be discomposed nor engage in puerile plays. The charm of 
her face attracted the love of all those who beheld her, as they could 
perceive in it the angelic purity of her heart. In conversation she 
was affable with all, ready to do the will of others whenever it would 
not be improper for her state. She repaid with fervent thankfulness all 
favors offered her, and was to all even the servants reverent, 
obedient, and humble. But the most wonderful thing at that early age 
was the inclination she manifested, almost from her cradle, for spiritual 
and divine things. Though incapable of understanding them, yet she 
used very much to enjoy hearing anybody talking about them ; and, 
therefore, when her mother being in company with devout persons used 
to make spiritual discourses, she would not part from her a moment, 
as she was thirsty to drink at the fountain of the divine word. As this 
word fell not in vain into her soul, she began even then to find 
her delight in retirement and solitude; so that very often she with 
drew all alone to some corner as if to meditate on the things of God. 
She had scarcely learned the rudiments of the Christian doctrine ; in 
fact, she was barely able to read, when she found in an office of the 
Blessed Virgin, the Symbol of St. Athanasius, an abridgment of the 
sublime mysteries of our faith, and especially of the Most Holy Trinity. 
Though she did not understand the words, except, as she afterwards 
said, by a certain spiritual instinct with which her affection was 
entranced, she read it all with great devotion ; and, judging it to be 
an object of inestimable value, with the greatest joy she brought 
it to her mother to read. She was struck with admiration, and 




Not without Divine dispensation, the name of Catherine was given 
her at Baptism (page 14). 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 15 

could see that God even then prepared her tender child for under 
standing the most sublime mysteries. Not to do anything at ran 
dom, but with cafe and reflection, would have been a very rare thing 
for a child of her age ; and yet this was truly her deportment in all, and 
none of those inattentions so frequent to children happened her. 
Whatever savored of virtue was in her superior to her age ; to religious 
and spiritual persons she would present herself with such questions on 
the divine attributes that all who heard her were greatly astonished. . On 
account of her fervent and assiduous care in learning the mysteries of 
the Christian faith, and of her excellent disposition of heart and 
intellect, she became so possessed of the knowledge of it that even in 
her infancy she could teach others the most difficult doctrines found in 
the catechism of our religion. She also manifested at that tender age 
the beginning of her holy vocation to the religious state, because she 
rejoiced exceedingly, in reciting her prayers, to veil and dress herself as 
well as she could in the costume of a nun. She was but seven years 
old when her mind was opened to the celestial light ; in her heart, 
before the love of the world appeared for an instant, the love of 
God had already kindled in an ineffable manner that immense flame, 
which, destroying by degrees the earthly life, was one day to lead her 
soul to heaven as a seraph. She progressed rapidly in the exercise of 
prayer ; she would give herself to it always with new pleasure ; and she 
was truly looking for every opportunity quietly to withdraw to the feet 
of Jesus. As if she had learned by experience that all worldly conver 
sations were a great impediment to union with God, she would avoid, 
as much as possible, talking with anybody on vain subjects. Often, 
when her people looked for her in the halls and chambers of the palace, 
she was found behind some door or bedstead, or in the most remote parts 
of the household, with a blissful mien, all rapt in God. Moreover, she 
knew so well how to guide herself in the practice of prayer that the 
most select teacher of the spiritual life would not have known how to 
better instruct her. In fact, as could be gathered from her discourses, 
it was known afterwards that, in praying during her childhood, she had 
practiced the most exact rules which have been suggested by teachers 
of the spiritual life. She would remove from around herself whatever 
might be the cause of wandering or distraction ; select the most obscure, 
retired, and suitable corner of the house ; determine the time, and propc < 
to herself the end of her prayer ; and in it, as she afterwards said, ^ 
purely sought God in order to learn to fulfill His holy will. 1 c 
severance was not wanting to her prayer, as nothing contrary or pleasir t 
could divert her from the daily hours which she had proposed to herself 
for praying. Even in time of aridity of spirit, which is a very strong 
temptation and hard to overcome, she was perfectly unalterable till the 
completion of her holy purpose. Prayer, therefore, had become her 
most dear delight and her principal entertainment. Thus is God some 
times wont to plant in some of His chosen souls these precocious flowers, 
as a prelude of the fruits of that extraordinary grace which, at the proper 
time, He intends to grant them ; so that those who see these flowers 
may divine the future, and understand afterwards that from Him alone 
so great a virtue has proceeded. 



l6 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

Catherine having persevered in so excellent a disposition till the 
age of nine years, Father Andrea De-Rossi, a Jesuit, her mother s 
confessor, thought he would take special charge of her, and first gave her 
for meditation the Passion of Jesus Christ, appointing for her use the 
"Meditations of Father Gasparo Loarte of the Society of Jesus" In 
consequence of this direction, she applied herself so constantly to medi 
tation on the passion of Jesus that she would long remain in it motion 
less, and almost ecstatic ; though sometimes during her prayer she was 
not able to avoid open and noisy places, she was not dispirited in conse 
quence thereof, but, being all absorbed in God, she seemed to see or 
hear nothing. In order to remove in advance all causes of distraction, 
she selected the early morning to pray ; so that at this tender age she 
arose daily from her bed, at a very early hour, and, for fear her 
mother might forbid her, she earnestly recommended herself to the 
servant-maids, who were the witnesses of her great diligence, begging 
them very affectionately not to reveal it to her mother or anybody else. 
She was so constant and well ordered in the prosecution of this holy 
exercise that she would spend in it one hour every morning, and never 
omitted it all the time she lived in the world. When, on account of her 
infirm health, she had to take iron, and, in consequence of this medicine, 
some exercise, as soon as she would return to her seclusion she would 
eagerly give herself to prayer. In a word, a day did not pass without 
her employing three or four hours in prayer, and very often she would 
pass entire nights in meditation and prayer. If, during them, nature 
demanded the comfort of sleep, she would take this at very short inter 
vals, and on her knees, with her head leaning on the bed. Rare example 
and lesson to those who give up or shorten their prayer for every light 
cause! 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 




CHAPTER II 




HOW FROM HER INFANCY SHE MANIFESTED HATRED FOR HERSELF 
AND LOVE FOR HER NEIGHBOR. 

|HE passion of Jesus Christ kindled in Catherine, though yet 
of tender age, an ardent wish to suffer for her Saviour. It 
was a wonder to see so small a creature, delicate and gentle, 
a strong warrior against her flesh, showing so much reso 
lution to subject it to suffering, which is so inimical and 
repugnant to nature. She regarded as just the suffer 
ings of the senses ; and, as children invent plays and 
amusements by the instinct of their age, so she would find 
new ways of afflicting her delicate limbs. Her ardent desire for suffering 
was not appeased by the discipline a common instrument of penance 
but, in addition, she would make crowns and girdles out of the thorny 
stems of orange trees, and, imitating the passion of Jesus, she would 
encircle with them her head and sides. Thus encircled and crowned, 
she would lie in bed at night, not sleeping, but bitterly suffering. She 
frowned at homage, and complained greatly of being too much 
caressed. She would beg the servant-maids, with tender love, not to 
warm her bed, even in the most rigid winter, from which she would 
sometimes secretly remove the mattress in order to sleep on the bare 
straw bed. Her mother noticing this, and, fearing that her daughter s 
delicate constitution might suffer too much, made her sleep in her own 
bed, in order to prevent her from practicing such penances. The tem 
perance she practiced in taking nourishment was so exceedingly great, 
that it might better be called a rigorous and continuous abstinence. 
She never asked for anything, as children are wont to do, but was 
satisfied with whatever was given her ; and she took so little of it that 
to her mother, who watched her, it seemed impossible that she could 
sustain herself. She knew so well how to mortify her appetite for food, 
which is generally a master over children, that at such a tender age, 
being invited during the day to take fruits or other things, she would 
not do it, except when compelled in obedience, to her mother. If it had 
not been for the continual vigilance of others, in order to make her take 
the, .ordinary nourishment, she would have utterly extinguished, with 



1 8 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

her abstinences and fasts, that little vigor of health which nature 
granted her. When not yet a religious, as we will see, she was placed 
by her parents in the monastery of St. Giovannino in Via S. Gallo of 
Florence, where the Gerosolimitan Sisters are. Here having an oppor 
tunity, with holy liberty, to satisfy her love by abstinences, she was 
reduced to such weakness that she scarcely had sufficient strength to 
sew. Thus the holy child, with voluntary sufferings, trained herself to 
combat the devil, hating her own flesh, according to the Gospel teaching. 
Being asked in her mature age why in her childhood she had treated 
her body so severely, she answered that she did it in order to render 
herself better able to pray, as he who hates not himself cannot remain 
united with God, and cannot be the disciple of Jesus Christ. Thus did 
she speak, because she was enlightened by celestial light. And that this 
was the truth, is proved by the charity which she felt very intensely for 
her neighbor. She looked upon the poverty and miseries of others as her 
own. She melted with compassion, and felt moved with sorrow, when 
she could not assist the poor, whom she regarded as dear to her Jesus, 
and she looked upon them with as great a love as if they had come out 
with her from her mother s womb. She reflected, even then, that the 
charity which is practiced with some sacrifice of necessary things, is 
dearer to God ; hence the breakfast and the afternoon luncheon which 
her mother gave her, as a child, she, with great joy, would distribute to 
the poor, and particularly to the poor prisoners, when, on her way to 
school, she passed in front of the prisons. Therefore, her parents, 
seeing how she delighted in works of mercy, when poor people came to 
the door, gave them the alms through her hands. Her charity did not 
stop at the visible object of bodily miseries ; but, with greater compassion, 
penetrating to the spirit, so great was the zeal she felt for the souls of 
others that she would inconsolably weep for the sins she saw committed, 
and for those in particular which offended the charity of her neighbor. 
In fact, having once heard words of grave offense to a neighbor, she 
passed the whole night without taking rest, buried in grief and tears. 
She wished so ardemly to benefit souls, that at such a childish age her 
greatest delight was to teach children the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, 
and the Credo, with the rudiments of our faith. Whilst other children 
were highly pleased to go from the cities to the villas for sport, she 
also was delighted, but from a higher motive ; that is, because she went 
there to find scope to satisfy her charity by giving religious instruction 
to the children of the peasants. This was her entertainment at the 
villas ; and on feast-days she would gather the little girls of her age, not 
to play together, but to teach them Christian doctrine. If they were 
poor, too, she would also practice material charity, and assist them, 
with her mother s permission, in the necessities of life now with 
food, now with clothing. She was so much attached to these works 
of charity, that when she had to return to the city she felt so sorry 
that she could not be consoled. Her parents noticed this, and having 
compassion for so holy an affliction, and wishing to satisfy such pious 
sentiments, they brought. to Florence a little daughter of one of their 
farmers, called Giovanna. They raised this child in their own palace 
in company with Catherine, who continued, to her great delight, to give 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 1 9 

her instructions in the Christian faith. As true love is communicative 
and operative, and such was that of Catherine, not satisfied with 
instilling in her neighbors that good which perfects the intellect, but 
desiring also to promote that which perfects the will, she tried to draw 
not only Giovanna, but also the other servant-maids of the house, to 
pray with her. To induce them to do it, she had no regard for her 
nobility, nor the delicacy of her constitution, nor for her youthful age, 
nor the weakness of her body ; but, made strong and vigorous by 
the zeal she felt for the good of souls, she would undertake to do house 
work with them, help to sweep the rooms, to make the beds, and provide 
the needs of the house, so that the sooner they were free from these 
occupations the sooner they might with her employ the remaining time 
in prayer. Thus God united to her charity manifest signs of that great 
humility which she was to practice. 




20 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 





CHAPTER III. 

OF HER DEVOTION TOWARDS THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND OF 
HER FIRST COMMUNION. 



N the heart of Catherine, inflamed with divine love, God 
infused so high an esteem of the Sacrament of the Altar, 
that, before being humanly invited to it, she longed with 
holy impatience to be admitted to feed upon the Bread of 
angels. Her age prevented her from receiving in reality 
her Jesus in the Sacrament; but, with the most intense 
desire and most ardent love, she rejoiced in the hope of 
one day obtaining such a grace, and then, as she could do 
nothing else, she took pleasure in seeing others receive the most sacred 
Eucharist. She, therefore, almost importuned her mother to take her, 
not only on festivals of obligation, but also on those days which, with 
out obligation, are solemnized by the piety of the faithful. It is hard to 
say with how much devotion, on her knees, she would fix her eyes for 
the whole of the morning on those persons who received Holy Com 
munion ; and, almost carried away by holy envy, she would sometimes 
complain because so great a gift of Heaven was not granted her. On 
her mother s returning home from Holy Communion, Catherine, as a 
butterfly in love with the light of the heavenly Spouse, would not sepa 
rate herself from her, but, scenting with the soul the suavity and spirit 
ual fragrance of Jesus in the Sacrament, who feeds among the lilies 
(pascitur inter lilia\ she would draw nearer than usual to her and would 
not part. When questioned by her mother, she would answer : " Because 
you smell of Jesus. " 

To her intense love for this most divine Sacrament was joined a 
supreme reverence, with which she honored the same with unspeakable 
humility. One feast-day morning she was late, and, the weather being 
rainy and the streets muddy, her parents requested her to take breakfast 
before going to Mass and then to go in a carriage ; but when she heard 
it she burst into bitter weeping, saying it did not behoove her to go to 
see Jesus in such a manner. In order to quiet her, it was necessary to 
let her go to the church fasting and on foot. She would beg her spiritual 
director and her mother with importunity and ardent desire to grant her 
the consolation of being admitted to the Holy Communion ; hence the 
director, Father Andrea De-Rossi, knowing that her desire emanated 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 21 

from a knowledge and affection superior to her age (ten years), promised 
to satisfy her on the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. 
With how much and with what heavenly joy Catherine received this 
promise, no one whose heart is not as thirsty for Jesus as hers was can 
imagine. In all the days which preceded the great solemnity she thought 
of nothing but the Blessed Sacrament ; she never tired speaking of it. 
She was always in prayer; she was always practicing penance, chastising 
herself, an innocent virgin, with fasts. All the years of her life might 
be called years of innocence, of piety, and a continual preparation for 
Holy Communion. Finally, the happy day for Catherine burst forth 
the day longed for by her fervent heart, on which, for the first time, at 
the age of ten years, she received the most holy Sacrament in the Church 
of St. Giovannino, then belonging to the Fathers of the Society of 
Jesus. God not permitting Himself to be surpassed in love by His 
creature, the greater the wish and devout preparation of this innocent 
soul, the greater, no doubt, was the consolation with which He filled 
her soul in Holy Communion, and such was the sweetness she experi 
enced in that sacramental union with God that she used to say she never 
felt a greater in her lifetime. Having tasted and felt how sweet and 
delicious her Lord in this Sacrament was, she became inflamed with a 
parching thirst often to approach that prodigious fountain of grace, and 
therefore her spiritual father, seeing in her such great virtue and knowl 
edge superior to her age, properly decided to satisfy her every eight days. 
God having granted her holy wish, she would await the whole week, 
with holy sighs and tears of tender love, the happy day for her soul ; 
and every day nay, every hour seemed to her a very long time to pass 
in order to arrive at the moment of her spiritual consolation. Such was 
her spiritual delight, her heart being filled by Holy Communion with so 
many gifts of celestial comfort, she felt as though melting with love, 
and, this holy fervor showing in her exterior appearance, she be 
came a source of wonder and edification to all those who beheld her 
so collected and devout. 




22 



THE UFK AND WORKS OF 




CHAPTER IV. 




SHE MAKES A VOW OF VIRGINITY AND EXPERIENCES AN EXCESS 

OF DIVINE LOVE. 



SOUIy so pure could not but love purity and innocence ; she 
knew by supernatural light that the Divine Bridegroom 
attracted to Himself pure souls with the precious odor of 
purity and innocence ; therefore purity would wonderfully 
enter into her heart whenever she beheld it. Being once 
asked why she so tenderly caressed the little children to 
whom she taught the Christian doctrine at the villa/ she 
answered that she did so on account of the stainless purity 
she perceived in them ; as, not having yet committed sin, they had not 
stained the white robe of baptismal innocence, and because they repre 
sented the Child Jesus of that age. From the same love of purity she 
ardently desired the monastic state, and even from her childhood she 
had a resolute and constant will to make it her choice. Enlightened by 
celestial light and drawn by the high idea she had of holy purity, she 
thought the offering of perpetual virginity a gift she ought to make to 
God. On Holy Thursday of the year of our salvation 1576, the tenth 
of her age (wonderful thing !), meditating on the infinite love with which 
the Eternal Father loved the world, in giving to it His only-begotten Son, 
who left Himself, His body and blood, His soul and Divinity, as a food for 
us miserable mortals, inflamed with the desire of responding with gratitude 
to so great a love, she thought of making to God the worthiest return 
possible for her to make. After receiving Holy Communion, the same 
day, full of divine love, she consecrated her virginity to God by a per 
petual vow, and in the same act she plighted her faith and word to her 
beloved and loving Jesus, that she would have no other spouse but Him. 
Jesus accepted the offer, and in token of it placed on her finger a most 
precious ring, which she then neither saw nor felt, but afterwards it 
was shown her by her Divine Spouse. 

If the heart of this tender virgin was ever burning with love for 
Jesus, in this act she felt such flames of it that, unable to contain them 
within her breast, she was soon compelled to manifest them exteriorly, 
and this happened on the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, whilst she was 
at the villa with her mother. Her spirit being overcome by an excess 
of divine love, she felt within such strong ardor and faintness that she 




Though only a little girl as yet, she guestions her mother and the 
Religious concerning the mysteries of our faith ( page 15 ). 



22 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 23 

was excited almost to frenzy, could find no place to rest, could not speak a 
word, and seemed almost overwhelmed on all sides. Her mother, believ 
ing her to be afflicted with some bodily ailment, did not omit to apply 
convenient remedies, but human skill was not and could not be of any 
benefit to her ; and well did the sufferer know it ; but she said nothing of 
it to her mother, both through an exercise of humility and for greater 
correspondence to the love of her Spouse, who was pleased to relieve 
her on the following day, when her body, yet tender, could not have 
endured any more. Yet God willed, for a useful manifestation of the 
truth, that she once would declare the supernatural cause of this. This 
was done in a case similar to it, which happened her several years later, 
when she was already clothed in the habit of a Religious, and, being 
rapt unto ecstasy, she spoke these precious words: "O Love, what Thou 
makest me feel now is like unto what Thou didst communicate to me 
on the feast of him who so loved the cross, 1 when I was not yet dedi 
cated to Thee in the sacred Religion, 2 and my mother thought it was 
bodily sickness. " Which being made known to the mother, and she 
comparing one case with the other, testified to Sister Vangelista del 
Giocondo and other nuns, that what had happened her daughter at the 
villa was from a supernatural cause. If she had not declared it before 
then with such positive certainty, she was none the less convinced of it, 
since God was not slow in offering to her mind other indications by 
which to repute her daughter as privileged by Heaven. 

1 St. Andrew. 

2 " Religion " here, as in many other places in this book, is used in the sense of 
41 Religious Order. "Note of the Translator. 




24 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 





CHAPTER V. 

PLACED IN THE MONASTERY OF ST. GIOVANNINO OF THE KNIGHTS 
OF MALTA, SHE GIVES EDIFICATION TO ALL THOSE NUNS. 

|T was the year 1580, when the most serene Grand Duke of 
Tuscany, Francis de Medici I, chose as commissary of the 
city of Cortona, Camillo De-Pazzi, the father of Catherine. 
It was customary to put in such an office a Florentine noble 
whose wisdom would equal the splendor of his birth, that 
he might secure loyal veneration from the people. And the 
gifts and virtues of Camillo were to amply correspond to 
the expectation entertained of him. Therefore, having to 
go there and remain for the course of a year, he resolved to take his 
family with him, Catherine excepted, whom, not without a heavenly 
disposition, he entrusted to the care of Sister Selvaggia Morelli, her 
cousin, a nun held in high esteem in the monastery of St. Giovannino 
of the Knights of Malta. We will not say how Catherine rejoiced at 
such a determination on her father s part, whilst, on account of her greal 
care in removing everything that might distract her from her union with 
God, she certainly saw in it the greatest convenience to attend, while in 
the monastery, to prayer and other devout exercises. The nuns also 
rejoiced in their turn, and, on account of the high opinion of the virtue in 
which they heard she was generally held, they eagerly wished to enjoy 
the experience of it. Our Catherine then entered the monastery, and her 
first thought was to obtain permission to freely receive the sacred Bread 
of angels on all feasts of obligation. This she did while there, with 
unalterable frequency and always with lively devotion. Two affections 
were enkindled in her heart by this exercise one of charity, the other 
of humility; by charity, she fervently wished that all souls would be 
partakers of the blessings she found and enjoyed in the sacramental 
union with God ; and by humility, in order not to be singular (as in that 
monastery such frequenting of the sacraments was unusual), she procured 
and proceeded with such pious exhortations and examples that some 
nuns at first, and then all, followed her habit constantly. 

The eye of her mother (who, being too jealous of her temporal good, 
watched her assiduously) not being on her, though in the monastery 
somebody was always at her side and she also had more opportunity 
to converse than at the parental house, she cared for nothing but what 
could promote the perfection of her spirit. Therefore, letting loose the 
rein of her desire to pray continually, she became so absorbed in this 
holy exercise that, besides the regular times, during which she often 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN D^-PAZZI. $5 

retired to the choir, she would employ three hours regularly every day in 
it two in the morning and one in the evening ; so that, between these 
and the interrupted times, the nuns saw that most of the day was spent 
by her in mental prayer. But her fervid spirit did not feel sufficiently 
satisfied, and therefore even during the night she often left her bed and 
prostrated herself before God in prayer. On account of her pressing 
requests to her cousin and teacher, she was often permitted to go at night 
to the choir for Matins with the other nuns, and when refused she arose 
at the same hour, and, hidden in her room, she knelt at the foot of the 
bed and prayed till the morning bell called all to hear the Holy Mass. 
Her meditations were in a special manner on the current gospels. She 
took (as those nuns testified), on Saturday evening, the gospel for the fol 
lowing Sunday, and, extracting some points from it, made her medita 
tions on them during the following week. The same nuns also left tes 
timony to the effect that they saw her several times so absorbed in 
meditation that she seemed to them an angel of paradise. They saw 
her as if alienated from her senses, her face red as a rose, with her eyes 
as resplendent as luminous stars; and especially her remaining thus, firm 
and fixed like a statue for whole hours on her knees, without moving 
her eyes, caused them great surprise. Whilst they were in the choir 
reciting the Divine Office, such was her modesty and composure that 
the nuns, some in wonder, others with delight, and many out of the 
devotion it would cause them to see her, could not take their eyes away 
from her. 

To make herself even better able to perform this holy exercise of 
prayer, profiting here also by the great advantage the monastery offered 
her, as she doubled her prayers, so she also did her penances. Besides 
taking short rest, on account of the long time employed in meditating, 
she frequently slept on the bare straw bed, which, though she tried to 
hide it from her, was often noticed by her guardian. Zealous in her 
abstinence, Catherine multiplied her fasts and disciplines so that she was 
reduced to a state of bad health, and yet she was so much opposed to any 
bodily comfort that she was never sad, except when by the direction 
of her teacher she was compelled to take something more than the ordi 
nary nourishment. 

As in the world she had given edification to many by her virtues, so 
also in the monastery she was, by the same, a source of great edification 
to the Religious, who particularly , besides the other things aforesaid, gave 
testimony of the retirement, modesty, charity, obedience, and humility 
which they noticed in her. In fact, as they relate, she was never found 
with the other girls that were kept there or with the younger members 
of the monastery for recreations and pastimes, but she was only seen 
with the others in the choir, in places of devotion, or near the sick, and 
sometimes with some whose conversation seemed to her more spiritual, 
or with those whom she knew to be better disposed to become more 
retired and devout. She spoke of spiritual things only, and she 
studied always to excite the nuns to the religious observance, and 
all the persons in the monastery to the frequenting of the sacra 
ments. She was never heard to utter a word of vanity, of levity, or idle 
ness ; she was never seen excited or restless, but always benign, serious, 



26 THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 

and meek. Not a hint of murmuring or lamentation came from her 
lips, and though, on account of her retired and singular mode of living, 
particularly her frequenting the sacraments, which, at first, was not 
approved by some, she sometimes encountered opposition, yet she took 
nothing in evil part, but always covered the faults of others, and with 
unalterable firmness she advanced in her devout exercises. In visiting the 
sick of the monastery she would manifest toward them the greatest affec 
tion, exhort them with sweet and charitable words, read spiritual books 
to them, encourage them to patience and other virtues, and administer 
to them all those charitable offices which were permitted and suitable 
for her ; and thus she occupied her recreation time. Hence, any one 
looking for Catherine, not finding her in her cell or in the choir, would 
go straight to the bedside of the sick, sure to find her there. As for the 
obedience she practiced in this monastery, her teacher asserted, with 
formal testimony, that Catherine never showed any repugnance to do 
anything that would be commanded her, but she did everything with 
promptness and rectitude. Not only to her teacher, but also to all the 
other nuns, she showed great veneration and sincere obedience. On 
account of her great love of charity and humility, she desired to be 
employed in the lowest and most menial occupations of the monastery; 
hence, she seemed to feel happy when she was permitted to do some 
servile work. Because of the low esteem in which she held herself, 
and the respect she had for the religious state,- she considered herself un 
worthy of living with the nuns ; and sometimes she excused her keeping 
at a distance by saying to them : " You are the brides of Jesus, by your 
religious profession ; but I am not, and therefore I am not worthy to 
stay with you." 

The nuns, seeing these rare qualities and singular virtues, con 
ceived the thought that she was not an ordinary creature, but another 
St. Gertrude or St. Catherine of Siena, as they asserted that they had 
never known a girl endowed with so much goodness ; therefore, such 
was their respect for her, that some did not dare to converse with her, 
others never had enough of seeing and talking with her, and all very 
much desired that she would become a nun in their monastery. This 
desire was so ardent that, knowing her to be opposed to it, because she 
was inclined to choose a more severe rule, they declared themselves 
ready to allow her to lead them to that observance and mode of life 
which would better please her ; but, humble as she was, she considered 
herself wholly inadequate for such an undertaking, and, prudently, 
would not rest assured of the uncertain success of such promises. 
Therefore, her parents, having returned from Cortona, brought her back 
again to the ancestral residence, after fifteen months stay in the above- 
named monastery. The good nuns were exceedingly disconsolate on 
account of the departure of a soul so chosen and favored of God, and 
lamented because Heaven had not permitted them to enjoy her as their 
sister ; but, at the same time, they remained particularly edified by the 
example of her piety and holy conversation, and very much pleased at 
having had among them, during that time, a youthful virgin who, in 
the first dawn of her life, so to say, gave promise of a noonday of sub 
lime sanctity. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZl. 27 





CHAPTER VI 

SHE DESIRES TO RECEIVE THE RELIGIOUS HABIT, AND OVERCOMES 

THE DIFFICULTIES WITH WHICH SHE MEETS. SHE CHOOSES THE 

MONASTERY, ENTERS IT ON TRIAL, AND, GIVING PROOF OF 

HER VIRTUES, IS RECEIVED THEREIN TO BECOME A NUN. 



JHE holy impatience of this chosen bride of the L,ord would 
not permit her to refrain long from stealing away from the 
world, to live permanently in the religious cloister, united 
to her Divine Spouse. Even from her infancy, God had 
inspired her with the desire to part from the world by be 
coming a Religious ; though she could not then understand 
the difference between living in the world and in the monas 
tery. Corresponding faithfully to this inspiration by the 
very devout life which we have thus far described, she had deserved that 
God would show her, with a brighter light, the value of religious life, and, 
with greater impulses to her heart, excite her to make up her mind to 
embrace it. Hence, in the past she had prudently concealed this desire 
under a careful silence, as a thing that could not be accomplished at so 
tender an age, speaking of it only to her spiritual father, to whom she 
made everything clear. Now, however, she felt ready to execute the 
Divine will, which corresponded so closely to her own, and she looked 
for an opportune moment in which to speak of her desire to her parents. 
Though they could not but have taken notice of such a disposition in 
their child, yet, she being their only daughter, and being charmed 
by her character, her features, and her noble manners, they had abso 
lutely made up their minds to have her married. Without anything 
else, without even asking her once about it, they suggested now one 
party and now another, as he seemed to suit better the virtues of their 
daughter and the nobility and wealth of the family. In the meantime, 
to cure her of the weakness caused by the harshness of her penances 
and the austerity of her fastings, they conducted her to the villa, where 
her health was restored by the change of air, restorative medicines, and 
nutritious food. Her parents, well pleased at it, returned with her to 
Florence, and renewed their endeavors towards hastening a convenient 
occasion for the proposed marriage. The mother of the marchioness, 
dexterously and without showing her the motive, stimulated her, from 



2 THE LIKE AND WORKS OF 

time to time, to exquisiteness, refinement, and sprightliness, both in her 
manners and in her dress, only giving as reasons therefor, civility, 
honor, family, and the like, which, nevertheless, savored of the world. 
She, though unwillingly, out of respect and obedience to her mother, 
would, to some extent, concur in these things. But God wanted her 
for a different purpose, and wanted her soon. Hence, Catherine was no 
longer capable of resisting the fire of Divine love, which consumed her 
with the desire of becoming a nun. She was now sixteen, and, as she 
noticed a deep silence on her parents part, she became prudently suspi 
cious lest they would not allow her to become a nun, as she was passing 
the age when, according to custom, girls are wont to consecrate them 
selves to God. Therefore she opened her heart to her spiritual director, 
and felt, in consequence of his approval, more certain of the will of God 
in this, her insuperable tendency. 

Not long afterwards she went to her father and humbly manifested 
to him her deliberate intention of becoming a nun, and begged him, 
as well as she could, to be pleased with it nay, to help her to carry it 
out. Her father, although a good Christian, yet being great according 
to the world and penetrated by the maxims of high society, could not 
sufficiently appreciate those greater joys the soul and heart of his 
daughter were seeking after. He consequently looked no further than 
to the high standing of his family, and ahnost got angry at the determi 
nation announced to him by Catherine. He told her abruptly that he 
was far from seconding her, at which she, finding herself in danger 
either of disobeying her father or becoming unworthy of God, replied 
with great courage, but not without dutiful respect, that she would 
rather let her head be cut off than give up her idea of becoming a nunr 
Her father, seeing such determination, did not dare to repeat his refusal, 
but sent Catherine to her mother, who, knowing her disposition bettei 
and having more intercourse with her, he thought, would perhaps dis 
suade her, or at least obtain some delay which might serve to do away 
altogether with her fixed purpose. But everything was useless, as Cath 
erine, being assured of God s will in it, had already put away every 
human affection and consideration. She rightly perceived that her 
mother s tenderness would be a greater obstacle to her than her father s 
opposition, hence she tried with all strength to overcome it, making use 
of these two means : First, she had recourse to prayer, fervently begging 
of the Lord to be pleased to take from her mother s heart so much love 
for her, or diminish it so that it would not be an impediment to the 
entire fulfillment of the heavenly decrees concerning her, especially in 
the selecting of her state of life; and, after this, she began to uproot 
this maternal love, practicing every art, without failing in the honor and 
respect due her, so that her mother might detach her affection from her. 
She not only failed to please her in ornamenting and dressing herself 
as her mother wished, but she avoided also, as much as she could, con 
versing with her. When she was obliged to be in society, she did not 
deport herself with her previous courtesy and cheerfulness, but with 
studied rusticity of manner and always appeared afflicted and melancholy. 
Her mother did not yet understand from whence so great a change pro 
ceeded, and therefore did everything to make her affable and pleasant as 



ST. MARY MAGDALKN DE-PAZZI. 2Q 

before. She caressed her with increased tenderness and showed herself 
affectionate to her; she conversed on spiritual subjects according to her 
tastes, questioned her about her meditations, and used all possible means 
to make her again cheerful and content. Catherine resisted with virtuous 
indifference all these new incitements of the maternal love, which in 
effect tended to imprison her more safely in the world; for which, as 
she afterwards confessed to her nuns, she suffered doubly, both because 
this proceeding was contrary to her inclination and the nature of her 
heart, and because, loving her mother tenderly, she regretted very much 
having to grieve her in this manner hence she lived in a state of 
permanent combat with herself. She also feared that some other sudden 
storm might intervene to oppose her firm purpose of consecrating 
herself to God in the monastery. Her delicate health again succumbed, 
because of so great and so many distresses. But the painful experiment 
God wanted His beloved servant to undergo, before introducing her into 
the garden of consolation, was near its end. In fact, her mother, having 
found out the cause of the unusual behavior of Catherine and her suffer 
ings, conferred about it with the same spiritual father, and received .from 
him the confirmation of the truth. She became solicitous of affording 
her daughter the most valid comfort. She soon called her to herself, 
and when she modestly approached, ignorant of the cause for which her 
mother summoned her, she did not dare to raise her eyes from the 
ground, always fearing more trouble to her greatly afflicted soul. The 
marchioness did not remain sitting as usual ; but, as soon as her daughter 
approached her, she arose to embrace her; and, in a rather subdued 
tone, assured her that the idea of giving her in marriage was 
altogether gone from her mind and that of her father. Nay, they were 
determined fully to second her desire of becoming a nun. If she would 
think about the choice of the monastery, they would please her in every 
thing. She would thus become guarantrix for her husband s will, as, 
since he had entrusted this affair to her, she felt sure no opposition 
would come from him. It is not easy to imagine how pleased Catherine 
was at this news, and how warmly she thanked God in her heart for it. 
In all her actions she manifested the contentment of her spirit. She 
uttered a few words of gratitude in answer to her mother, but, being 
overcome by interior delight, she was unable to express her joy ; and, 
having taken leave, she retired to a dark chamber, where, with sighs 
and tears of tenderness, she gave way somewhat to the great joy by 
which she felt herself overwhelmed. Then, taking a respite, she showed 
herself to the family all courteous and pleasant. At the same time, she 
seriously applied herself to making the choice of the monastery that 
would be most convenient for her ; and as neither by the coaxings of 
her parents, nor the attachments of the world, nor human regrets, had she 
been shaken or stopped in her holy resolution, so, in this choice, she 
would only look to Heaven for light. She had recourse to prayer, the 
usual manner of the Saints in holding converse with God ; she doubled 
her spiritual exercises, sure means of securing the alliance of Heaven, in 
order to know the place in which God wanted her heart to serve Him. 
Such being her tendency, and the better to assure herself of the Divine 
will, she resolved to enter a monastery where community life would be 



30 THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 

observed in retirement and complete religious observance. She wished 
to be a nun ; but of facts and works ; for though yet in the world, she 
well understood of how great importance for all in a religious order 
these requisites are. Looking at all the monasteries then existing in 
Florence, and noting in each the reasons for and against, and very studi 
ously looking for the best, her thoughts rested on three of them. 
Speaking of it to her spiritual father, she mentioned them to him with 
her reasons. One was the monastery of the Crocetta ; another, of St. 
Clara ; and the third, of Santa Maria degli Angeli. In the first, under the 
patronage of the glorious St. Dominic, the nuns never see, and are never 
seen by, the seculars ; in the second, under the rule of St. Francis, they 
were living in the greatest poverty and asperity of penances ; and in 
the last one particular attention was paid to interior perfection, and 
they received Holy Communion daily a rare thing in those times. Her 
desires were captivated by every one of these holy places. She also 
greatly desired to withdraw bodily from the world as much as possible, 
as she was entirely detached therefrom in her soul ; and, therefore, she 
wished very much never to see, nor to be seen by, the world. To live 
a despised and abject life, and to suf for God s love, was a very strong 
craving of her heart, which would .iave wished to suffer everything 
for the sake of her crucified Spouse. Her hunger for the eucharistic 
food attracted her with inexpressible force, because by means of it she 
could foster, with her Divine Spouse, the purity of the soul, and with 
paradisiacal husbandry adorn it with various flowers of religious per 
fection. Thus were the affections of Catherine divided ; and continuing 
to present the reasons for each to her spiritual director, it seemed as if 
all the religious requirements she loved and admired in the other two 
were united and combined in the monastery of St. Maria degli Angeli; 
hence, without any further delay, moved also by a ray of heavenly light, 
she resolved to consecrate herself entirely to God in the last named. 
The community life which was practiced in very rigorous perfection, 
obliging the members to live in true religious poverty and subjection; 
the retirement from the gratings and the few visits from seculars ; the 
assiduous application of mind to celestial things, a primary characteristic 
of the Carmelite Order ; the frequenting of the Most Holy Sacrament, 
by which those holy souls became adorned with singular perfections, 
rendered the above monastery degli Angeli a model for virgins dedi 
cated to the Lord God. 

Having told her parents of the choice of the monastery, they 
applied themselves to the obtaining of due approbation from the 
ordinary; and this obtained, and having prepared everything else for 
the purpose, they took her directly to Santa Maria degli Angeli, in 
Borgo San Frediano, in order that she might there make her first trial 
for the space of ten days, according to the practice and the order of the 
superiors. Being introduced there, she was welcomed with great 
pleasure by the nuns. According to their rules, she was given in charge 
of those who dealt with the strangers that is, those whose office it was 
to guard and direct the seculars who entered on trial. They, watching 
very closely the qualities, the inclinations, the words, and the deport 
ment of Catherine, soon wondered at the perfections with which she 




Being rapt in ecstasy at a very tender age, she is discovered by 
her parents (page 15). 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 3! 

was enriched, and esteemed hers to be more than ordinary goodness. 
From the modesty of her discourse, the gravity of her behavior, the 
humility and purity of her bearing, the respect and submission she 
manifested for all, they were able to bear the best testimony to the 
confessor and the rest of the nuns that she was not only worthy and 
deserving of their habit, but they should very much wish and yearn for 
the acquisition of a girl of such noble and distinct prerogatives of blood, 
education, and most perfect virtues. They related having observed in 
her in a very special manner the excessive desire to become a Religions, 
and her stability and assiduous frequency at prayer. Some remarked 
that while praying she would not move in the least, and that from such 
immobility it was easy to perceive how highly fixed in God her soul 
was, and how she was already wonderfully habituated to it. In the mon 
astery, as under the paternal roof, she would arise early in the morning 
and immediately go to the choir, to remain there for one hour in serious 
meditation; and throughout the day, whenever possible, she would 
very gladly return to the same exercise. From her constancy in prayer, 
and from the light she manifested about the spiritual life, and from her 
esteem for the religious exercises, the mother Sister Vangelista del 
Giocondo was induced to make an experiment on the .spirit of 
Catherine, who, although a girl of only sixteen years, an age when 
nature generally shows more liveliness, yet seemed so advanced in 
perfection as to be a woman in years. To ascertain whether this 
assiduity at prayer proceeded from her own will, or was joined to 
some human complacency or sensible delight, she told her that if she 
would receive the habit of a nun she could not recite the prayers 
she did when secular, and that she would be bound to conform with the 
others to the practices of the community. To which she promptly 
replied: " Mother, this does not trouble me in the least, because I know 
that all things done in obedience to religion are prayers." The vener 
able mother had no reply to make, and was sufficiently informed of how 
enlightened in the ways of God this good child was, and how detached 
from her own will, and, therefore, most suitable for religion. Catherine 
gave also a solemn proof of her mortification, and the mastership she 
held over her senses and her whole self in this regard. One day, finding 
herself with the other nuns in the workhall, some things suddenly fell, 
making so great a noise that all the nuns were greatly frightened, sh f 
alone did not even raise her head or turn her eyes to see what hnr 
happened, thus restraining in an exemplary manner the curiosity c 
apprehension which generally, in such cases, possesses every person, 
especially if a woman and inexperienced on account of her youthful 
age. Therefore, because of all these exterior qualities, which were 
a sure earnest of her sublime interior perfection, the nuns, by unani 
mous consent, not only judged her worthy of their order, but eagerly 
wished for her, and regarded it as a most singular favor of Heaven to 
have her among them. Therefore, all hailed her with great joy as 
their sister in Jesus Christ, who would receive the veil in their mon 
astery, at the time they would appoint, with the permission of their 
superiors. 

In these few days Catherine observed diligently the orders and the 



32 "THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

mode of life of the monastery, read the rules and the constitution, and 
accurately took notice of how they were obeyed. She was so well sat 
isfied and pleased with everything that she could not wish for anything 
more; and having conceived so high an opinion of the nuns that she 
reputed herself unworthy to live with them, she said, through her 
humility, that she would have been pleased to be the lowest menial in the 
monastery. The nuns therefore longing for her, and she being highly 
pleased with their goodness and exactitude in obeying the rules, she 
would have become a nun at once, but by the disposition of her parents 
and the prudent custom of the monastery she returned for a short time 
to her father s palace. 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



33 




CHAPTER VIL 




HOW SHE DESPISED BODILY ORNAMENTS AND THE VANITIES 
OF THE WORLD. 



.THERINE DE-PAZZI was pointed out by mothers of fami 
lies as a model to their daughters, when they were carried away 
and hallucinated by vanity, whilst, through her simple way 
of dressing, ornaments of a higher value were shining out. 
Virtue puts on no other dress than that of modesty and 
simplicity, because it has no need of borrowed lustre. In 
those who desire to follow Jesus Christ the wish to orna 
ment the person cannot exist. Dress was introduced as a 
shield from the severity of the seasons and as a help to modesty. To 
depart from this principle, immovably based on natural rectitude, is 
to fall into illusion and hypocrisy ; and it is for this reason that the grand 
world of to-day appears to be and is in truth a theatre of falsehoods. 
Those polishings in the habiliment, especially in the female sex; those 
insatiable yearnings for the fashions, for the newest and best style; those 
anvcted tendernesses and wantonnesses in words and actions, are but the 
signs of a deceitful and foolish spirit. The audacity with which some 
cover themselves with a seducing display, even in the church, which 
is the asylum of innocence and piety, where everything inspires com 
punction and reminds us of the solemn promises made at our baptism 
this is, to say the least, an indication of corruption, unless we call it an 
indication of a faith nearly extinguished. Hence, before leaving the 
secular life of Catherine, let noble maids especially consider for a while 
how she acted in it, and let them not bring forth, as a pretext for not 
imitating her, new reasons of social convenience; because a Christian s 
principles admit of no exception of person and submit not to the whim 
sical changes of the world. 

Catherine, then, imbued with the supreme truth, even from her 
childhood always greatly abhorred everything that savored of worldly 
ornament always refused to adorn herself with jewels, rich apparel, 
embellishment of face, and affected hair-dressing ; and in nothing was 
she so restive in obeying her mother as in fixing her hair and dressing 
as became her. She loved a modest and simple appearance, would not 
have silk dresses, nor too showy ones. She put on costumes of inferior 
quality, without any ornament, and always appeared as a poor working 
girl rather than a rich gentlewoman. Neither did she care to go abroad 



34 TH E LIFE AND WORKS OF 

to festivals, or tournaments, or other shows of the world; nay, she so 
wearied of them that, although her residence was at the corner called 
De-Pazzi, where the horse-races were held, and though it was at these 
times rilled with gentlewomen who wished to see them, she knew so well 
how to mortify herself that during all the time she was a secular she 
never once looked out of the window on such a noisy occasion a thing 
truly worthy of admiration in a girl. The abuse of the world in adorn 
ing the new brides of Jesus Christ like earthly brides with excessive arti 
fices, and taking them, as to a scene of pomp, to promenades, vain enter 
tainments, theatres, and other worldly allurements was despised by Cath 
erine, who used to say she could not understand how girls could have a 
desire to be religious and brides of Jesus, and yet enjoy seeing themselves 
and being seen vainly ornamented. So, when her mother, soon after tak 
ing her from the monastery of St. Giovannino de Cavalieri, made her a 
white silk dress, even though it was simple in style and without any 
gold or silver, she had great difficulty in persuading Catherine to put it 
on. All the day on which, out of obedience to her mother, she wore it, 
she wept copiously. On being asked the reason, she answered : " Because 
it becomes not a girl who dedicates herself to God, to dress so as to 
become conspicuous in the eyes of His creatures. " And she would add no 
other ornament to it afterwards. If she condescended to keep that silk 
dress, it was because of its simplicity of workmanship, and because in 
its whiteness it offered her the symbol of holy purity. From this fact 
originated the custom of those girls expecting to receive the habit in 
her order, who, in the interval when they remain in the world before 
entering the cloister, absolutely refuse vain ornaments, dressing in a 
modest manner, and appear, the day they exchange the world s goods 
for the blessed poverty of Religion, before the priest in a white dress 
similar to that which was presented to their holy mother when she 
received the habit of the Carmelite Religious. Neither did she distract 
herself in secular visits nor feed on worldly sceneries before she entered 
the sacred enclosure, but only visited religious places and devout 
persons, to whose prayers she earnestly recommended herself. And 
curiosity about the furnishings, or anxiety about those things which of 
necessity she had to bring along, did not distract her. She left the care 
of all this to her mother, without even selecting or seeing anything, her 
thought and her affection being solely occupied in hastening her with 
drawal from the world, wholly to unite herself to her Spouse Jesus. 
Let this be an example also to those girls who, in becoming nuns, 
though they have a real vocation for the life, show themselves anxious 
to have an abundant and suitable equipment, either for their own 
pleasure or lest they appear more humble than others in Religion. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



35 




CHAPTER VIIL 




HOW SHE ENTERED THE MONASTERY PERMANENTLY, AND WITH 

WHAT PREPARATION AND DEVOTION SHE THERE 

RECEIVED THE HABIT OF A NUN. 



|N the Saturday previous to the First Sunday in Advent, in 
the year 1582, which was the first day of December, Cath 
erine bade that long-wished-for adieu to the world and 
entered, rejoicing, the centre of her rest, her paradise on 
earth the monastery of St. Maria degli Angel i, of the 
Sacred Order of the Carmel, in Borgo San Frediano, which 
was afterwards transferred, as it exists to-day, to the Borgo 
di Pinti. 1 Before leaving her father s house, she knelt at her 
parents feet, asking forgiveness of them for anything displeasing to them 
she might have done during the whole of her tender life, and earnestly 
begged that they would impart to her their parental blessing. With tears 
of true love, she was blessed not forgiven, though, for she had never 
been guilty of any fault. She also took leave of her other relations and 
some persons who, on account of particular friendship, frequently visited 
the house, and, finally, of all the servants of the house, speaking to every 
one words of respect, of humility, of prayer. In this last separation the 
strength of grace and divine love became more manifest in her. Amidst 
the tears of her parents and the manifestations of sorrow from her rela 
tions and the servants, Catherine bore herself with such fortitude of spirit 
and firmness of countenance, that she seemed not to feel it. This could 
not have been the case with that heart so gentle and loving, if the 
strength of divine charity had not wholly mastered her. 

Thus having secured victory over all earthly affections, she was 
received by the nuns at this second and final entrance with those senti 
ments with which they were inspired by the general opinion they enter 
tained of her and the trial they had made of her singular virtues during 
the few days of her first stay with them. For some reason, not unusual 
in such cases, she did not take the religious habit until the following 
January. In the meantime, God desired from her another proof of her 
contempt for the vanities of the world. Whilst she, with all the affec 
tion and pleasure of her heart, was preparing to be received into the Order, 



1 Public improvements have since made necessary its removal to the Piazza Savona 
rola, \vhere a new monastery has been built. 



36 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

she had to endure the temptation of vainglory. Her parents, as good 
Christians, and in order not to oppose the divine will, so clearly mani 
fested, submitted to the sacrifice, most painful to their hearts, of conse 
crating their only daughter forever to God. They had entertained such 
delightful hopes of seeing her married into one of the most prominent 
families and one day hearing her praised as a model among the mothers 
of families and the most noble matrons. Ordinarily, the perfection of 
the secular, especially if persons of wealth, does not go beyond the letter 
of the divine precepts. The spirit which animates the word is not pene 
trated by them. The evangelical counsels are a superfluity for them. 
Yet, would to God that all would fulfill to the letter what is prescribed 
by the divine precepts ! 

Catherine s parents still cherished an ardent love for her, hence her 
absence caused them great pain ; arid, in some measure to alleviate their 
grief, they resolved to have her portrait at home. The prioress of the 
monastery, on being asked, did not oppose a wish so natural to the 
hearts of a father and mother, so that, appointing the day, the famous 
painter, Santi di Tito, repaired to the monastery in order to paint Cath 
erine s portrait. When she heard this, as she was penetrated deeply by 
the spirit of perfection, she cried exceedingly, and would in no way 
submit to it. Being asked the reason for such a firm refusal, she replied: 
"I came out of the world to return to it no more, and not to be seen in 
these dresses again." It would have been impossible to obtain her con 
sent had not the orders of the superioress and her father confessor 
obliged her to give it. Through obedience alone, then, she submitted 
to it. During the time that Santi di Tito, with his colors, was bringing 
her back to the midst of the world, she was constantly weeping and 
lamenting with these words of humility : u Is it possible that of a creature 
so vile as I am, and of a handful of dust, a remembrance will remain in 
the world?" This occurrence, however, did not distract her from the 
fervent preparation in which she was then occupied for the reception of 
the sacred habit. Her parents obtained in her portrait the only possible 
satisfaction which could be granted to them. They held it very dear, 
recommended it to their survivors, and the latter to their successors ; so 
that it is preserved even to-day, in the same distinguished family, as a 
relic of great veneration, of great glory, and of the truest affection. Of 
this family I only said a few words in the beginning, to describe the 
it ition and early education of Catherine; I will not fail to return to 
,t at an opportune point with a more extended notice. 

Catherine was more and more animated by contempt of the world 
and love of God during the days that followed. Until she received the 
re^gious habit she remained in the department of strangers, renouncing 
the customary pastimes and worldly visits which are permitted in the 
monasteries to those who are about to receive the habit of nuns. On 
the day before receiving the habit, particularly, she would not go down 
to the gratings, and the superioress did not order her to the contrary. She 
spent the entire day in fervent prayer, meditating on the great work which, 
with sovereign charity, by the goodness of God it was granted her to 
undertake. To her relations and others who, out of courtesy or because 
of great attachment, came to visit her, she sent a message by the mis- 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 37 

tress that such a day was not to be spent at the gratings nor in prattling; 
therefore, they had to depart without seeing her. She would not even look 
at anything that was sent to her. Having spent the night in spiritual 
contemplation rather than in bodily rest, the following morning, with that 
fervor and recollection which one can imagine from what we have thus 
far narrated, she received sacramentally her Divine Spouse Jesus; and, 
remaining immovable and penetrated by a deep feeling of gratitude till 
the moment of the sacred ceremony, she experienced in it one of her 
dearest consolations nay, the greatest of her whole life. After the 
celebration of Holy Mass by the father confessor of the monastery, Rev. 
Agostino Campi, the ceremony of giving the habit was immediately 
performed by him, according to the rubrics and the custom of the 
Order. The promptness, the joy, the devotion, the sublime affection 
that were noticed in Catherine s manner and behavior during this cere 
mony drew the admiration and the tenderness of those present, even to 
making them shed tears. There was a girl in particular, who, at the 
sight, wished immediately to give up worldly ornaments, and, following 
Catherine s example, put on the simple religious garb. That this wish 
did not proceed from the ordinary volubility of imagination in women, 
but really from the impulse of divine grace, which offered to that girl 
the means to obtain her own best interest, was shown by the fact that, 
shortly afterwards, she became a nun and a companion of Catherine s in 
the same habit and monastery. 

Though the ceremony was a long one, the newly-made bride never 
once turned her eyes to satisfy the natural curiosity of seeing who had come 
to the church. She remained so imbued with holy thoughts, that even 
to those who assisted her in taking off the secular dress and putting on 
the habit given her by the priest, she seemed as if alienated from her 
senses. Consequently, they felt an embarrassment in touching her, fear 
ing that they would cause her pain by thus distracting her. After she 
had become a nun, she said to some of her devout companions that when 
the confessor put the crucifix in her hands, the sisters singing " Mihi 
absit gloriari nisi in Critce Domini nostri Jesu Chris ti" u But God for 
bid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ " 
(Galat. vi, 14) she felt her soul become united to Jesus with such a force 
of love and sweetness of spirit, that it was a miracle that her body did 
not succumb from the separation. With a renewal of grateful protesta 
tions, of loyal and spiritual offerings, her heart completed this cere 
mony with God. Now we shall no more see the maid who had to fight 
at least the fickleness of the world and of nobility ; we shall no more 
see Catherine, but Sister Mary Magdalen, thus newly baptized and 
dressed in a habit wholly of God. 

To pursue my object, which is to lead the reader from time to time 
to make those reflections which may be profitable to both his mind and 
heart, I would like to show here a little of the importance and value 
implied in this passing from the world to a religious order. It is of 
no use to describe the value and efficacy of this new baptism to worldly 
souls, who, if not all, certainly for the most part, regard the religious 
vocation as a choice of caprice, of egotism, or, at the best, of a naturally 
pious tendency. They do not realize what the effect is to a human soul 



38 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

of feeling its body clad in a habit which, in quality, color, shape, uni 
formity, in everything, inspires most significant ideas. This total cut 
ting off from the world nay, this stamping on the world that is, on 
all its regards, on all its maxims, its falsehoods, its ribaldries, its abuse 
of power ; this finding of oneself protected by four walls, which form the 
true home of the Saints, always being a sister or brother to every 
body for the love of Jesus Christ, but without any capricious love of 
the flesh ; this victory over the three capital enemies of the soul, 
which brings back human nature to its true liberty and dignity 
all this is not truly understood except by those whom God has 
admitted into a cloister to enjoy such privileges. I can only repeat 
to them St. Paul s exhortation namely, worthily to proceed in their 
vocation lest they render it useless. The people of the world, in pur 
suing with hatred those who follow the Gospel, may only do so on account 
of their own wickedness, according to the solemn sentence of Jesus 
Christ. 





Having made some instruments of penance, she put them on when 
going to bed ( page 17). 

33 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 39 




CHAPTER IX. 

IN HOW SAINTLY A MANNER SHE SPENT HER NOVITIATE, AND 

HOW DURING THAT TIME SHE FELT AN EXCESS 

OF DIVINE LOVE. 



|F the joy of Mary Magdalen in receiving the religious habit 
was great, no less great was the perfection and the sanctity 
which she manifested during her novitiate, to the amaze 
ment of all the nuns and her spiritual father, who acknowl 
edged her as a perfect religious, even from the beginning of 
her probation. Sister Victoria Contugi, a nun of no ordi 
nary virtue, used to say that Sister Maria Maddalena should 
have been her mistress rather than her no vice, as she noticed 
in her so great a perfection that most willingly she would have subjected 
herself to her as a disciple. On the day of her taking the habit, Mary 
Magdalen fell at the feet of this sister her mistress and, in an act of 
humility and sincere affection, wholly resigned herself to her will. She 
told her that she gave herself to her as dead, and, therefore, she should do 
with her what she pleased, because she was most ready to obey her in 
everything. She begged of her to humiliate and mortify her, without 
any consideration, whenever God inspired her to do so. She afterwards 
renewed this act of humble and entire resignation into the hands of 
Sister Vangelista del Giocondo, who succeeded said Sister Victoria in the 
office of mistress of novices. Sister Mary Magdalen, even before 
entering the novitiate or being instructed in it by cloistered persons, 
well knew, as we have hinted above, that religious perfection does not 
consist in protracting prayers, multiplying penances and fasts, or dis 
tinguishing oneself in works of singular virtues, but rather in the exact 
observance of the rules, and the faithful execution of everything else 
prescribed by the voice of the superiors, as the most safe oracle of the 
divine will. Therefore, not only did she never oppose any orders of her 
mistresses not only did she most promptly obey their every wish, but 
rather most judiciously tried to anticipate their will, so that often she 
was more prompt in obeying than they in signifying their intention. As 
to the faultlessness with which she obeyed her mistresses of the novitiate, 
suffice it to say that, no matter what diligence they employed, they as 
serted that they could not find out the things which Mary Magdalen 
liked or those for which she felt repugnance. She was young and of 
such an ingenuous character as to easily manifest itself, especially when 
under the assiduous vigilance of persons whose duty it was to watch the 
simplest word from those novices under their care. During the 
novitiate, too, the simplest tendencies are remarked ; therefore, one can 
judge whether more can be said of the renouncement and submission of 



4O THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

our Saint s will. And to this submission is chiefly due the observance 
of the rules, to which she conformed even to being scrupulous. There 
was not a rule among them, even trifling as it might be, that she did 
not appreciate or obey ; and, with equal perfection, she venerated and 
observed also those practices of supererogation she found in use in the 
community. Every day she read and studied some point of the rules 
and constitution of the monastery, that she might fully and firmly keep 
it in her memory. For greater facility, she would often ask her com 
panions to remind her of the duties and customs of their order, and if 
they noticed her failing, to use with her the great charity of warning 
and correcting her. On account of her evident and exceeding fondness 
for prayer, her mistress would sometimes give her liberty to retire to 
pray at those times when the novices had to be occupied in manual 
exercises. She would not use such permission, protesting that she 
would rather be employed in any work determined by obedience than in 
the most sublime contemplation of her own choice ; because, in fulfilling 
the obligation of religion and obedience, she was sure of doing the will 
of God ; but not so in the prayers and other exercises, though good and 
holy, chosen by her own will. She said : " If I would pray well at the 
times permitted by the religion it would not be little. " Lowly and menial 
occupations were her delight, and she was the first to submit to the most 
laborious ones. The more austere and heavy they were, the lighter and 
sweeter they seemed to her. As a combined exercise of humility and 
charity to the lay-novices who were especially entrusted with keeping 
the novitiate in order, she used to try and lighten the weight of their 
labor. Sometimes she would secretly take the linens they had to cleanse, 
and wash them ; sometimes she would sweep the corridors, the dormitory, 
and the other places of the novitiate for them ; sometimes she would 
clean the lamps and make the beds ; in a word, she would do everything 
she could to help others, considering herself the least of all, greatly rejoicing 
to become a servant to the others. With this same feeling of charity and 
humility she preferred to converse with the novices who were most igno 
rant and least talented, choosing for herself the lowest place among them. 
Even here she judged herself the most lowly and least fit for Religion. 
She tried to learn something to her benefit from all, and would accept 
advice and admonition from everyone, not only w r ith serenity, but with acts 
of thanksgiving and gratitude ; and to obtain it, she very often prayerfully 
urged her mistress and even her companions in the novitiate. She always 
showed herself undisturbed in her peace, and, as she wished all the 
others to be so, she became comfort, help, and consolation to them in 
their times of sadness. What she observed in others she always inter 
preted in the best sense ; and, if sometimes anybody s defect would 
appear too evident, she rather used the oil of gentleness and prudence 
than the vinegar of backbiting. Her conversation was such an 
efficacious spiritual lesson to the other novices her discourses, illus 
trated by ideas of the eternal life, penetrated the heart so deeply, and her 
words were uttered with such fiery zeal, that she inflamed the lily- like 
hearts of those virgins with a great love for God, and an ardent desire 
to please Him. The novitiate thus became like a paradise of angels on 
earth. This light and these flames of St. Mary Magdalen dazzled 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 41 

almost instantaneously and miraculously the hearts of those girls who 
used to go and see the monastery with a desire of becoming nuns. 
Without knowing her, they became attached to her, regarding her as 
an angel in the flesh, and wished not to have to part from her any 
more. The virtues of the other novices emanated in some measure from 
the perfection of St. Mary Magdalen let us freely call her Saint, as she 
already truly was, even from that time hence, she shone above all ; and 
everybody, with the greatest veneration, stood gazing at her example. 
These efficacious influences, then, had their origin in that familiarity 
with prayer by which she remained united to God in love, so strongly 
and constantly, that no occurrence, however strange, could attract 
her from it for the shortest time. If, awhile ago, we saw her pre 
ferring manual work to the retirement of prayer, we must not think 
that on that account she would be distracted from the holy exercise of 
interior recollection. She well knew how to couple the active with the 
contemplative life. Moreover, she was so industrious in cultivating her 
spirit that, having completed the manual and the charitable exercises, 
she would spend in prayer all the remaining time which was freely 
given to the novices for their recreation. Not satisfied with this, she 
would steal some hours from her sleep. Having no permission from 
her mistress to arise in the night at unusual hours, she would place her 
self on her knees on the bed, in which position she was often found, 
and there, hiding her singular devotion, and rejoicing more in being than 
only appearing pious and devout, would give vent in some manner to that 
divine flame which was burning within her breast, and of which, even 
from this time of her novitiate, God willed that all the nuns should have 
an undoubted evidence. During Advent, one evening, this incident 
occurred : Our Saint having remained alone in the oratory, after the prayers 
in company with the novices, she became so red and inflamed in the face 
that she seemed to be burning with a most scorching fever, and, as if 
frantic, could find no means to calm herself. She unfastened and vio 
lently tore her dress, as if to make an opening for the interior fire to escape, 
seeming to be consumed and melting away. On the mistress noticing it, 
and calling the other nuns, they were all. highly surprised at such a 
novelty. They could not at first imagine the cause of it; but some of 
them, recalling to mind what the lady marchioness had told them as 
having happened to her daughter at the villa, and hearing her now pro 
nouncing some divine words, became assured that this was an excess of 
the love of God. Interruptedly and with tears, she exclaimed in these 
words : " O Love, how much offended Thou art ! How much offended 
Thou art, O Love ! O Love, Thou art not known nor loved!" And in 
this, loving complaint, she moaned with anguish for the offenses com 
mitted against God. Forced by obedience to her mistress to enter the 
bed, having already been led perhaps unconsciously to the dormi 
tory, she said: "Will it be possible that I enter this bed whilst God 
is so grievously offended? O Love, I will do it through obedience;" 
and thus she obeyed. For about two hours she experienced this excess 
of love, and then she resumed her natural state. The love of God is a 
fire which burns, but does not consume; unlike our passions, which 
afford fuel to a fire that will consume ourselves and all we possess. 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 




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CHAPTER X. 




I 



SHE WISHES TO MAKE HER PROFESSION AND FORETELLS SHE WILL 

DO IT ALONE, AND IN THE MEANTIME SHE GIVES 

PROOF OF GREAT VIRTUE IN SICKNESS. 



OTHING was wanting to her heart for a perfect union with 
God, both on account of her never-stained purity, and of 
the vow of virginity she made when yet a secular, and also 
on account of the entire consecration of herself in the act 
by which, stripping herself of the garb of t^e world, she 
put on that of a nun. She sighed, nevertheless, with holy 
impatience for the time when she would also formally bind 
herself to God with the loving tie of holy vows in the 
religious profession. She complained of the length of the time, and 
measured with loving weariness the passing of the year, because she did 
not wish to wait till the end of it. It happened that, eight months after 
her taking the habit, some novices her companions were about to 
make their religious profession, and she asked with great earnest 
ness that she might be admitted with them to witness the solemnity 
of this act. This being refused her, she grieved much over it, 
thinking through her humility, or rather the poor opinion she 
entertained of herself, that the superiors refused her the dispensation 
because they found her unworthy of this favor. She was so much 
imbued with this idea that she did not dare to speak or converse with 
these professed sisters, who remained for some time in the novitiate, as 
was the custom. So highly did she venerate the religions state, that 
she excused herself in these short but sincerely humble and affectionate 
words : (t You are the brides of Jesus, and I do not deserve to be one." 
Her heart had no rest until she was assured that the ordinary superiors 
had no authority to dispense in such cases. She then patiently awaited 
the end of her spiritual probation. When this came, she imagined 
in advance how she, too, would have enjoyed this happy lot ; but God 
wished to try still further this, His beloved bride, and seemed delighted 
in leading her longer by the road of desire. There being no other 
novices ready to profess, the superioresses thought they had better join 
this one to the others ; and in this way the profession of Sister Mary 
Magdalen was deferred. In quietly submitting herself to this post 
ponement she had to perform one of those acts which are by no means 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 43 

easy for those who are not possessed of the most pure and divine love. 
But she, inspired by God Himself, who wanted to try her further, said to 
the prioress and to the mistress : "I will not make my profession with 
the rest ; but you will be obliged to have me make it alone, to your 
sorrow." The mothers paid no attention to these words, judging them 
to proceed from her great desire ; but what followed proved them 
to be a most certain prophecy. About the end of March, of the year 
1584, nearly two months longer than the year of her probation, on 
a Friday morning, the seraphic virgin received a great spiritual con 
solation, with infinite bodily torment. She was attacked by a most 
violent fever, with chills, and such a severe cough that her breast 
seemed about to burst. The nuns feared lest a vein might break ; there 
fore, they quickly had recourse to human art, under the direction of 
Messer Jacopo Tronconi, a most skillful physician, who immediately 
opened the vein and then prescribed some medicine. He used all the 
other remedies that his knowledge could suggest to him in the case ; 
but the illness obstinately increased and the seraphic patient was con 
tinually agitated by the most cruel and dangerous attacks. Eight days 
after, being attacked two or three times daily by these pains, the illness 
became alarming. The doctor then decided to touch her on the nape 
of the neck with a button of fire, which lightened the illness to some 
extent, but did not remove it, nor diminish the fever or the cough. 
The catarrh increased, and reduced her to such a state that she could not 
take any nourishment without great effort, and scarcely had it reached 
her stomach before she was taken with a desire to vomit ; and being 
unable to give way to it by the pressure of the stomach, she was forced 
to send forth cries and shrieks which pierced the ears and hearts of 
persons afar off. The physician himself, who was often the witness of 
this sad spectacle, feared that some breast vein might burst. He saw 
her attacked and overcome by the cough three and four times an hour. 
She became unable to lie on the bed, because as soon as she would lie 
down she felt smothered ; neither could she stand up, on account of her 
weakness. Day and night she suffered ; dressed and sitting -on the same 
bed, without rest and without respite. 

Forty days had passed since her illness began, and it was still grow 
ing worse and more violent. The attending physician agreed with the 
nuns to call in for consultation three of the chief doctors of Florence. 
These physicians having carefully examined the patient, and prescribed 
and applied to her those remedies which, by common consent, they 
regarded as the best, seeing their uselessness, became discouraged and 
confessed their inability to locate the seat of the disease. In the mean 
time, the patient was gradually getting worse, until the twentieth of the 
following May. She became then, by a new and strange change, 
unable to take anything, not even fluids. If she took but a mouthful 
of water, she would faint with pain. Every way, then, being barred 
against her support, the physicians themselves despaired of her recovery. 
As an extreme experiment, they prescribed for her the water del Tet- 
tuccio, which, being taken in a small quantity by the patient for two 
mornings, and with the greatest pain, had to be given up. God s 
servant was placed in the hands of God, to suffer for three months 



44 THE UFK AND WORKS OF 

the most severe and cruel sickness. The simplicity of the last remedy 
used by the physicians must astonish everybody to-day, when medical 
science furnishes better remedies than a natural water. In this we have 
an evident proof of the progress of this science, for the reason that 
greater study and experience give it new and better acquisitions. Let 
us reflect, to our profit, that the same thing cannot be said of the 
science of the soul s salvation ; because this, in its principles, excludes 
all doubts, all changes and human experiments. It is all heavenly, all 
divine, and consequently altogether invariable ; hence, he is not only a 
fool and an impious man who attempts to lay hands on it, but he 
also is one who pretends to improve it and build it up by substantial 
reforms. That Sister Mary Magdalen should continue to live without 
nourishment, and so violently sick, seemed entirely supernatural ; but 
no less wonderful appeared to be her constancy and firmness, since, 
although assailed and oppressed by so many torments, there was never 
noticed in her an act or sign of complaint to indicate an impatient 
spirit. She always, even during the inevitable sufferings of nature, 
kept her usual calmness and grace ; always was most obedient to those 
who attended her, and to the physicians, though she did not hope for 
health through human skill. Illness is apt to be the thermometer of 
one s virtue and the occasion of reporting victory over one s self, because 
when the body is weakened and troubled by sickness, the soul is also 
more depressed and enervated by it. If by long-continued and strenuous 
acts of virtue in the past it has not contracted strong habits and fixed 
the will firmly in the love of virtue, the soul is easily overcome and van 
quished, both by the weariness and the pains with which it is troubled. 
Alas ! most people, far from profiting spiritually by the infirmities of the 
body, become worse. This they plainly show afterwards, when they 
have recovered, by their sinking deeper into their vices, as if death had 
gone far off from them, because they had come out victorious in that com 
bat. Sister Mary Magdalen in this illness not only gave proof of full 
control over her passions, keeping herself constantly tranquil, but with 
an over-abundance of divine love she showed that the torments which 
assailed her were like so much fuel placed on the fire of her love for 
God, or like the blowing of a strong wind, which kindled more and 
more the celestial flame in the recesses of her heart. Every natural 
hope of recovery having, therefore, disappeared, and everybody thinking 
that only a few days of life were left her, the spiritual father and the 
mothers of the monastery, not being willing to let her die without the 
advantage of the sacred vows, resolved to admit her alone to the profes 
sion, as she had previously with a prophetic, but not understood spirit, 
foretold. The seraphic virgin gave thanks to God, who had made use 
of such an excruciating sickness to make her enjoy more quickly, 
by the tie of the vows, the union with her Divine Spouse. As she was 
unable to make her profession in the customary place, and wishing to 
do it with all possible reverence and devotion, she implored the nuns 
to fix a little bed for her in the choir before the altar of the Blessed 
Virgin. This* request was granted her, because of the knowledge she 
manifested of the character and importance of this religious undertak 
ing. She was taken to the choir on the morning of Trinity Sunday, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 45 

which in that year, 1584, fell on the twenty-seventh day of May. There, 
having made her confession to the usual father confessor, Rev. Agos- 
tino Campi, and having received Holy Communion from him, with 
great animation and fervor she made, at his hands, her regular profession. 
What a deluge of celestial graces, what consolation overflowed the inno 
cent and seraphic soul of Sister Mary Magdalen in that religious and so- 
much-wished-for act cannot be described, because the happiness of souls 
that, though traveling on earth, yet are blessed in God s love, cannot 
be expressed in words. She herself, when brought back to her bed, 
manifested to some extent what new vigor her spirit had derived 
from it. She asked as a favor from the nurse that the bed-curtains be 
lowered and that she be permitted to rest a while. L,onging more for 
the rest of the spirit than that of the body, when she found herself 
alone, she became so fixed in the consideration of the grace received 
from God, and the union made with Him by means of the holy vows, 
that she remained motionless, without being troubled by the cough, and 
in deep rest. The nurses, who, of course, had not departed, but had only 
placed themselves in a position to notice, from time to time, what she 
would do, perceived that, being rapt in divine thoughts, she was alien 
ated from her senses. Her countenance had assumed an air of paradise ; 
the ashy paleness had given way to a clear, bright color; and her eyes, 
flashing and most resplendent, were looking fixedly at an image of the 
Crucifix. Being amazed at such a sight, they called in the rest of the 
nuns, all of whom greatly marveled, and, becoming at once edified and 
moved, gave thanks to the .Divine Goodness who worked so prodigiously 
in their dear sister. She remained in that state about two hours, and 
then, returning to her senses, again resumed the attenuated and pale 
countenance, and again felt the torments of the fever, the cough, and 
the pains. This was the first rapture noticed in this ecstatic servant of 
the Lord, who was so highly favored by God with a most sublime 
knowledge and wonderful frequency of such graces, the effects of which 
we shall see at length in the faithful narration of the second volume, 
viz. , in the Works of this Saint. 




4 6 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 




CHAPTER XL 




SHE IS CURED OF HER ILLNESS IN A WONDERFUL MANNER BY THE 

INTERCESSION OF THE BLESSED MARIA BAGNESI, WHOM SHE 

AFTERWARDS SEES GLORIFIED IN HEAVEN, AND FROM 

WHOM SHE RECEIVES SUBLIME KNOWLEDGE; 

ON WHICH A REMARK IS ADDED. 



]HE knowledge of Sister Mary Magdalen s sanctity kept the 
hearts of the nuns greatly agitated with the ever-increasing 
fear of losing her. Her illness was, from day to day, grow 
ing worse, and the strength of the Saint perceptibly dimin 
ished. At the beginning of July the obstinate illness 
showed not the slightest sign of improvement. It was a 
miracle how she continued to live, because she would but 
seldom take any nourishment, and then only in very small 
quantities and with the greatest difficulty, nay, with a positive effort 
of nature. The nuns redoubled their prayers, sighs, and tears, and 
practiced some devotions in common that God might be pleased to give 
back to them in good health this sister so valuable to them. As the 
moment appointed by Divine Providence to work new wonders in this, 
His most beloved servant, was approaching, the souls of the nuns who 
were to be the witnesses thereof were prepared accordingly. In the year 
1577, in Florence, the noWe Maria Bartolomei Bagnesi, a sister of the 
Third Order of St. Dominic and illustrious for her sanctity, departed 
this life. At the fervent request of the nuns of Santa Maria degli Angel i 
the body of the sister was given to them, and, therefore, carried with 
great pomp to their monastery. It was deposited in a sarcophagus and 
privately kept by them with ever-increasing devotion, until, on account 
of the many miracles wrought through her intercession, the great and 
glorious Pontiff Pius VII was pleased to raise her to the honors of the 
altar, with the title of Blessed. In consequence of this, the sacred 
sarcophagus was exposed to public veneration. Then a lay-sister, 
named Sister Maria Dorotea, who knew how our Saint venerated the 
now Blessed Maria Bagnesi, and how frequently, when in good 
health, she visited her sepulchre, made a vow one Friday evening 
that, when able, Sister Mary Magdalen would visit the body of the 
venerable mother three times, reciting each time three Pater Nosters and 
three Ave Marias; and that she, Sister Dorotea, would fast for three 




She instructs country youths in the rudiments of the faith, and 
also distributes various alms to them (page 18). 

46 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 47 

Tuesdays, and on the day of the death of the Blessed Maria Bagnesi, and 
have three Masses offered in honor of the Most Holy Trinity. She did 
not make this vow known to anybody. Not even the Saint knew it 
then ; and yet, by disposition of the Divine Goodness, it happened at the 
same time, that the ordinary confessor, Rev. Agostino Campi, entered the 
monastery to restore the holy patient with the Eucharistic Bread. He 
told her that he wished her, when able, to go and visit the body of the 
Venerable Sister Maria Bagnesi, together with Sister Veronica, a novice, 
and Sister Dorotea, a lay-sister. At these words, as she afterwards 
related to the nurse, the Saint suddenly felt the catarrh cease, the cough 
stop together with the shortness of breath, and she found herself free 
from illness and pain ; so that she promptly, and with a cheerful coun 
tenance, answered him : " Yes, Father ; by the grace of God, I will be 
able to go." She said nothing then about her feeling healed, perhaps 
on account of her deeply-rooted humility, or because she was not suffi 
ciently certain of having been favored with such a prodigy. Her con 
fessor having left her, and she knowing positively that she had been 
restored to health by a supernatural agency, said to the nurse : "I 
want you to know that I am cured, and that I will surfer no more cough 
or pain; and you will see that taking my dinner will not annoy me." 
These words, though pronounced with great energy and firmness, 
amazed the nurse, but did not altogether reassure her. The newly- 
recovered one, who saw that the moment for glorifying God had arrived, 
and who could see the hesitation of spirit in her assistant, added with 
an irresistible tone of voice : " Pray, get my dinner ready." It was 
ready in a moment ; and it consisted of light soup and cooked fruit. 
Whilst formerly, on account of her cough and pain, she could ordinarily 
swallow but a small portion of it, and that with the greatest difficulty, 
this time free from pain and without moving herself from side to 
side she ate the little she had as if in perfect health, and hungered 
for more. The nurse, raised and lowered her eyes, clasped both 
hands, and, as if ashamed of herself, dared not move nor speak. In the 
meantime, the confessor having called Sister Dorotea, ordered her, 
together with Sister Veronica, to take Sister Mary Magdalen to the 
sepulchre of Sister Maria Bagnesi. Imagine how the lay-sister wondered 
at the confessor s having the same thought that she had. She acquainted 
him on the spot with the vow she had made the evening previous and 
renewed the following morning. Knowing nothing yet of the grace 
already obtained, she had come with her novice companion in great 
faith and with a wonderful coincidence of thought to take the Saint to 
the tomb of Sister Maria Bagnesi. But as they approached the bed of 
Sister Mary Magdalen, they found they had no longer to deal with a sick 
person, because she was full of joy and vigor. As if to presage the 
happy news, she opened her arms to the two sisters, and they embraced 
one another in the Lord. They afterwards made known the cause of 
their coming ; and they saw, to their unspeakable surprise, the Saint arise 
immediately from her bed and prepare to join and lead them quickly to 
the sacred sarcophagus of Sister Maria Bagnesi. There, kneeling with 
her companions, after having prayed together for some time, she 
begged them to leave her by herself. When she was alone she prayed 



48 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

continuously for three hours, that is, from the eighteenth to the twenty- 
first hour, 1 with that fervor of devotion which certainly was not want 
ing in her, and which was called for by such a wonderful occurrence. 
She returned to the infirmary alone, ate some food very naturally, 
recited some prayers before the Crucifix, and, bidding good night to the 
nurse, undressed and went to bed, and passed the night in quiet rest. In 
the morning the nuns, who, even if they had wished to, could not doubt 
the evidence of the miracle, gathered around her, and turning on her looks 
which showed all the powers of amazement, all the forces of surprise 
and tenderness of affection, spoke to her words of the highest veneration 
and heartfelt satisfaction. To the joy they felt for their dear sister, 
who had just passed from a dangerous illness to perfect health, they 
united the greatest devotion and gratitude towards the Venerable Sister 
Bagnesi, who had obtained such a providential favor for her who was 
the ornament and the model of the monastery, on account of her great 
sanctity. They all thanked her with feelings of most sincere and deep 
gratitude. But it behooved Sister Mary Magdalen to do her share towards 
her own benefactress, and we b -lie * she knew how to acquit herself 
with exactitude and perfection. ja account of the frequency, the zeal, 
and the grateful and constant love with which she betook herself to 
the tomb of her beneficent mother, a few days after she recovered her 
health, that is, on the eleventh of July, 1584, she enjoyed the following 
remarkable privilege there. Whilst with great emotion of heart, at the 
foot of the sepulchre, she was gratefully meditating upon the favor 
received, she felt her soul being carried away by superhuman force 
through the celestial regions. She was made worthy to behold there the 
soul of the Venerable Bagnesi surrounded by great glory, and, through the 
obedience she was under to reveal what she saw in her ecstasies, she 
related this vision in the following words : u I saw in Paradise a most 
beautiful throne of incomprehensible light, on which, all resplendent and 
full of the greatest majesty, the blessed mother, Sister Maria Bagnesi, 
was sitting ; and I understood that this throne was due to her virginity 
and purity, which were to her very great ornaments. I also perceived 
that this throne was adorned with jewels, and these were all those souls 
she had led to the service of God, and who, encircling her all around 
like a crown, added to her ornamentation and beauty. n In consequence 
of the particular devotion she entertained for this servant of God, she was 
favored, even before her illness, with some sublime visions. We report 
them here for the sake of the continuity of the argument. 

During the night of the twelfth of February, 1584, being at prayer, 
and engaged in it with redoubled fervor, her mind was elevated to a 
very high contemplation. She seemed to see in heaven the soul of the 
Blessed Mother Maria Bagnesi, in the bosom of the Word Incarnate, as 
a precious gem, with which the Divine Word was as well satisfied as a 
bridegroom with the most valuable jewel with which he may be adorned. 
She understood that the Word kept this beautiful gem on His breast not 
only to delight in it, but also that it might be seen by all. He desired 

1 According to the old Italian way of counting the hours of the day, which has lately 
been revived. Note of the Translator. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 49 

it to be like a mirror for all who would gaze on it ; so that, noticing in 
it her virtues charity, purity, humility, patience, modesty, benignity, 
the sweetness of the love she felt for God and her neighbor during life, 
and for which she now enjoyed the reward they would be gently 
attracted to imitate her, at least in part, thus in some measure satisfying 
God, as she constantly gave Him delight. Whilst she was contem 
plating this Blessed soul, God gave St. Mary Magdalen to understand 
that, on account of the special affection He bore to her monastery, He 
had predestined two great luminaries for it as it reads in Genesis, that 
when He created the world, "fecit in eo duo iuminaria: lumiuare majiis 
ut prczesset diei, et luminare mimis^ tit prczesset nocti" "God made two 
great lights : a greater light to rule the day ; and a lesser light to rule 
the night" (Gen. i, 16). The one was the Blessed Virgin, the other the 
Blessed Maria Bagnesi. The Blessed Virgin is the great luminary, 
similar to the sun, because she is the special Mother of the monastery, 
under whose banner they enlist. Therefore, she sheds light like the 
sun, and on the day of grace, viz., during the present time, she, the 
Mother of purity, continues to enlighten the souls that are found in her 
dwelling-place ; strengthening them that they may walk in the path 
of God, making known to them the deceits of the enemy, and all the 
impediments that those who oppose them may cast in their way. 
She assists them to triumph over such obstacles, and, with maternal 
affection, she enlivens the sterile ground in the hearts of her beloved 
daughters with the fire of divine love, so that, through her, they blossom 
and bring forth flowers of just desire and fruits of good works and holy 
virtues. Again, this holy Mother performs loftier operations in those 
daughters who have the good disposition and prepare themselves, more 
and more, by faithful correspondence to grace ; she produces in them 
those greater spiritual effects which the sun is wont to produce materially 
in a cultivated garden after a beneficent dew. 

The minor luminary, which is the venerable mother, Sister Maria 
Bagnesi, placed through the love of God over her monastery, is like a 
moon, which, when the sun withdraws its rays, reflects its light. When, 
at times, the Mother of God is offended at her daughters because of their 
negligences and imperfections, and withdraws the rays of her splendor, 
leaving them in utter darkness, this blessed soul with pious affection 
enlightens the spirits of those wanderers in the obscurity of the night. 
She offers them efficient help to learn the cause of this darkness, excites 
them to true repentance, and, with urgent prayers, compels so to say 
the Mother of God to overlook the faults committed by these ungrateful, 
but repentant, daughters. Ah ! if the daughters of Mary could see how 
much help conies to them from this minor luminary when they find 
themselves in the obscurity of error, how much more they would profit 
by it than they now do ! Not only does she protect us in Heaven before 
God and His Holy Mother, but in the rare example of her virtues 
she has left us on earth a guide most useful, undoubtedly, for all, but in 
a special manner for the souls consecrated to God in the cloister, if they 
would profit by it, following faithfully in her footsteps. 

Again looking at these two heavenly luminaries, St. Mary Mag 
dalen ,saw that both were continually infusing light into those conse- 



50 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

crated souls. She saw, moreover, that those who lead an imperfect life 
in Religion obscure these luminaries with something like clouds ; and 
though they cannot take away the splendor from the sun and the moon, 
yet they darken them and obscure their rays, preventing them from pro 
ducing the desired effects in the individual. Souls who lead an imper 
fect life in a sacred place not only prevent the operations that these 
luminaries would produce, but lessen their influence on all the rest. 
With great emphasis, she pronounced these words: "Even the faults 
committed through weakness become clouds before these luminaries." 
But afterwards she was comforted on seeing the Divine Spirit clearing 
and casting away all the clouds made by the faults of those souls ; so 
that the operations of those two divine luminaries were being wonder 
fully performed and their effects brought to perfection. She saw some 
souls like very thick clouds, which did not disperse, neither at 
the light of the second luminary nor at the breath of the Divine 
Spirit. They would certainly have prevented the above effects; but the 
same Holy Ghost, with an extraordinary wind and great force, 
drove them away and confined them to a corner ; so that, though they 
were present, they did not at all prevent the Mother of God and the 
Blessed soul from freely performing their operations upon all the inmates 
of the monastery, The clouds were those souls that refused to remove 
the impediments so that God s grace might work in them, and, there 
fore, they remained with their imperfections. She also understood to 
her great joy how the Blessed Virgin adopts, with ineffable love, as 
her own daughters, all those who choose to dedicate themselves to God 
in this monastery, and spiritually gives birth to them in the sight 
of the Word. When they are born, she presents them to the Blessed 
soul of the mother Sister Maria Bagnesi who, like a loving nurse, 
raises them, and nourishes them spiritually. . Because of what she had 
learned, having returned to her senses, our Saint was extremely pleased 
and thankful to the Divine Providence for so efficaciously watching over 
the monastery she had selected. 

Another time, on the i/Lth of June, 1584, St. Mary Magdalen, with 
two other nuns, visited the body of the Blessed Bagnesi, in order to return 
thanks for the health so miraculously recovered through her mediation. 
While praying, she was led in spirit to the same blessed one in paradise, 
standing at the right hand of Jesus, between Jesus and the Blessed 
Virgin, clothed in a silver dress with gold and brown embroidery; gold 
for her charity, and brown for her great patience. She had palms in her 
hand as do the martyrs, and she was beautifully and grandly adorned. 
She saw also that Jesus took out of His most sacred hands large and 
beautiful jewels, filling the hands of Mother Maria Bagnesi with them, 
that she might dispense them. These jewels were of four kinds, viz. , 
white, red, violet, and brown; white for purity, red for the love of God, 
violet for humility, and brown for patience. While the mother dis 
pensed them, she saw her giving many of them, especially the white 
and red ones, to the nuns. She herself was given the four kinds, but a 
greater number of white and red ; the confessor was also given the 
four k inds, but more of the red and an abundance of the brown, because 
of the sovereign and uniform patience which his office required. She 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 51 

also saw her giving some of them, the most of which were violet and 
brown, to lay persons. Then it was presented to her imagination how 
the Blessed Bagnesi was gloriously drawn in a chariot of fire, likeKlias, 
the father of the Carmelites ; and she understood that chariot to be of 
fire because of her great charity in spiritual and temporal things. 
The four wheels signified the four cardinal virtues, viz., justice, forti 
tude, temperance, and prudence, practiced by her during her life. Here 
ended the second vision St. Mary Magdalen had of Blessed Maria 
Bagnesi. 

We will frequently note similar visions in our Saint, some of which 
were accompanied by revelations of hidden things or predictions of things 
to come. I have alluded, in the Introduction, to the kind of belief 
which we should give them. At this first, and perhaps not so favorable, 
impression that may have been made on the mind of the reader, it 
seems to me opportune to add some remarks which may better satisfy 
him. Immediate answers have the greatest weight, and more easily 
recur to memory in similar cases, so that, if one wants to, he may apply 
them for his own benefit. The Church, unlike secret societies, is wont 
to work in full light and the evidence of facts. She fears not the enmity 
of man, because she has no need of man. The history of virtuous and 
holy persons should not hide their imperfections, if they exist; nor 
should it inspire the reader with an uncertain and, perhaps, erroneous 
piety. The exposition of facts is not a panegyric nor a legend. Truth 
is never the loser; and it alone can convince and improve people. I am 
pleased, therefore, in spite of anyone who may be opposed, to quote 
the words Ludovico Muratori left us in his book on the strength of 
human imagination. In it he says: "When some virgins and other 
souls enamored of God give themselves up to meditate on the life of our 
Divine Saviour, or other truths of religion, it is proper to suppose 
that they have already filled their minds with sacred doctrines and 
devout ideas By the continuous reading of ascetic books, the sermons 
they have heard, and the instructions given them by learned and pious men. 
Materials are not wanting to their imagination for the forming of long, 
ingenious colloquies in their mind, and for the imagining of new 
ideas by the help of those preceding, deducing one from the other, and 
representing the actions of God, the angels, and other blessed spirits 
as their devout affection deems more appropriate and suitable to the 
subject of their contemplation. All this can take place without any 
miracle without particular cooperation of God ; I mean to say, natu 
rally. A soul full of sacred affection, with an imagination rich with so 
many ideas, is sufficient for it. * * * Then the habit of becoming ecstatic 
is formed, so that at the sight of the divine mysteries, or on returning to 
their usual meditations, their mind sees itself easily absorbed in these 
thoughts ; and they seem really, in imagination, to have Christ our 
Lord present to them, to embrace Him as a child, to accompany Him to 
the passion, and to do other like things. * * * Ecstasies and visions, 
therefore, being uniform in their substance, in the absence of an evident 
intervention of divine action, there must always remain some diffidence 
lest what appears to be God s work may not be truly so, and a doubt 
that jt may be but a natural phenomenon of persons who are ardently 



52 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

tending to God. Mystics themselves avow that in this matter a soul is 
subject to many deceptions. : * This is said, nevertheless, not to 
condemn entirely all apparitions and revelations, because, if to believe 
too much is an excess, it is no less of an excess to believe nothing." 

Behold, then, the plain talk of a writer who, certainly unsuspected of 
exaggeration in matters of piety, yet knows how to respect what apper 
tains to the all-powerful goodness of God. As for ourselves, let us be 
ware, lest in wanting to be free, we become unjust and unreasonable. 
Let us freely admit that our Saint was sometimes transported by her imag 
ination to see what did not exist, or to modify the existence of it. These 
fanciful productions, when they are not in opposition to the fundamental 
maxims of the faith, and, better, if by them a soul profits in piety, may be 
regarded as a means of Divine Providence more suited to such a person, 
as Jesus Christ Himself made use of parables and sensible signs to adapt 
Himself to the common intelligence. We cannot conceive what is above 
our senses, except by comparison with what is really subject to us. The 
grace of God instructs us according to our capacity, leading us, like 
children, by external signs, to represent to ourselves the formal existence 
of the invisible. Our imagination corresponds to it with more or less 
liveliness, according to our nature, education, and habits; hence, igno 
rant and simple persons, females particularly, have been and always will 
be more prolific in forming fanciful ideas ; because the stronger they are 
in imagination, the weaker are their reasoning powers. But God, who 
is so good, sometimes communicates Himself to them in preference to 
very learned men, for the well-known reason that imagination accom 
panied by humble devotion is more susceptible to such communication, 
than an intellect which, though sublime, is puffed up by vain haughti 
ness. In regard to this science we all have equal strength of mind, and 
the virtue of our heart alone can make us more apt to attain it ; so that 
the opinion of a poor, ignorant woman may be preferable in this to that 
of a distinguished theologian. Moreover, when the ecstasies, visions, 
or revelations have the supernatural element required by the above- 
quoted writer, and certainly by every good Catholic that is, when we 
see in them some sure evidence of a prodigy, such as an instantaneous 
cure, an ecstasy, an elevation of the body from the ground, a revelation 
of things hidden or far off we should venerate them as the works of 
Divine Omnipotence. Of such a character are nearly all the marvels of 
our Seraphim of the Carmel ; hence, in venerating these by an indis 
pensable duty of our faith, we should not refuse our assent to others of 
the same Saint, even if they do not appear so evidently marked. Let us, 
at least, acknowledge them as natural effects either of reason or of 
fancy, associated with God s ordinary grace. The incontestable proof of 
one fact is a guarantee for a thousand others in the same person, though 
the cause may not appear of equal credibility every time. Every good 
logician will teach us thus. It is truly a breach of faith when men want 
to take exception to this unavoidable principle only in matters of re 
ligion ; as the wicked Jews, who, at the sight of so many and such 
amazing miracles wrought by Jesus Christ, suppressed what might have 
convinced them of their own malignity ; and would themselves study, 
and make others also study, the works of Christ from that side only from 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



53 



which they thought they would have a good chance to deny and calum 
niate. After all, I will grant that some acts in this history, not accom 
panied or directed by divine grace, might be said to be the consequence 
of exaltation of mind, or rather a slight excess in piety ; but more than 
this cannot be granted. Even supposing this to be the case, when the 
Church has not condemned, will we dare condemn it as an excess of 
virtue, whilst in ourselves we tolerate, and wish others to tolerate, such 
excesses of vice ? I will say, once and for all : Let, at least, the essential 
virtues of the Christian be possessed by us let God be within our 
hearts and we will know how to judge with equity the actions of the 
Saints ; otherwise our consciences will be tribunals without judges. 
St. Paul, writing to Titus, has left us this comment : U A11 things are 
clean to the clean : but to the defiled, and the unbelievers, nothing is 
clean ; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled" (Tit. i, 15). 
Let us impress this well on our minds, and apply it efficaciously to our 
hearts. 




54 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 




CHAPTER XIL 




SHE RETURNS TO THE NOVITIATE, WHERE SHE GIVES NEW PROOFS 

OF MORTIFICATION AND SANCTITY, AND IS SEVERAL TIMES RAPT 

IN ECSTASY, DURING WHICH SHE LEARNS THAT IT IS GOD S 

WILL THAT SHE SHOULD LIVE ON BREAD AND WATER. 



]HE superioress, having detained her in the infirmary for a 
few days longer, thought, as did likewise the spiritual 
director of the monastery, that she would not send her back 
to the novitiate, but rather leave her free with the other 
professed nuns, that at her pleasure and convenience she 
might better satisfy her spirit of contemplation. She spoke 
to her about it, but the humble daughter feared that if she 
satisfied her self-love by allowing this, she might render her 
self less acceptable to God, so she began to plead with the superioress to 
place her again in the novitiate, where, on account of the subjection and 
mortification especially practiced there, she would feel more certain of 
divine approbation. She was consoled in her pious desires, and so 
were also the other novices. She, because of her great love of humble 
suffering, and also to avoid the privilege of associating with the professed 
mothers before the completion of the usual time spent by all in the 
novitiate ; they, on account of the companionship of so beautiful a soul, 
who could instruct them by words and by her exemplary life efficaciously 
lead them to religious perfection. As if favored of God with a great 
gift she returned many thanks, and by way of gratitude gave herself up, 
more than ever, to the observance of the rule and the practices of Reli 
gion. She occupied herself in the exterior exercises with such great con 
solation to her soul and with such an upright intention toward God, 
that in no case was she ever distracted by them from her interior recol 
lection. When at prayer, which would be as soon as she had finished 
her manual work, she would immediately be alienated from her senses 
and wholly rapt in God. It oftentimes happened that in the very act 
of manual exercise she was overtaken by an ecstasy. It was also an 
inconceivable wonder to the sisters to see that this holy child, privileged 
of God with such distinct favors of ecstasies and revelations, not only 
would derive from them no self-complacency or esteem, but on coming 
to herself, as if those things had been rather a fault in her, she would 
humble herself to the least of the novices even lay-novices. As if 




When her mother approached Holy Communion, she drew nearer 

to her, as if she * tasted " the fragrance of the 

sacramental species (page 20). 

54 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 55 

mortified, she would return to her other companions to fulfill with addi 
tional solicitude the orders and customs of the novitiate, as if to make 
amends for a time unduly spent. It occasioned them equal wonder 
to hear her talk to her companions with so much charity and humility, 
and of herself so basely and contemptuously, whilst a few moments pre 
viously she had been heard and seen talking so sublimely on exalted 
subjects. 

Though the pains of her illness, above described, had been so long 
and excessive, not only did they not extinguish in her the desire she 
felt of suffering for the love of God, but it seems, having thus tasted 
suffering, she yearned more and more for it. The kind superioress tried 
to make sure of the preservation of her health by particular diligence in 
the use of restoratives and by keeping far from her anything that might 
cause her pain ; she, on the contrary, tried in every manner and devised 
every means to suffer much, but without being noticed by anyone. 
There was a lay-novice of great simplicity, and our Saint, ingenious in 
her holiness, made good use of her in the exercise of her own sufferings. 
The mistress would order this lay-sister to prepare a specially tasty pot 
tage for Sister Mary Magdalen ; but she would persuade the lay-sister 
to bring her, instead, a small slice of bread in boiled water without salt, 
telling her that this was better for her. She would also have her bring 
to the doorkeepers the collation that was sent her, that they might 
give it to the poor, for the love of God ; and she would take for herself 
a bitter drink made from herbs, saying that this was better for her 
stomach. Perhaps the Saint wished by this suffering to experience in 
herself the passion of her Divine Spouse, embittered in His last hours by 
gall, whilst He was dying on the cross for the redemption of souls. It 
was only after the death of the Saint that the simple lay-sister told of 
her condescensions. Sister Mary Magdalen devised also, about that 
time, a kind of suffering-, by her called hidden, which she continued 
throughout the course of her life. It was that, noticing how the supe 
rioresses studied to please and satisfy her every wish or desire, not to 
say need (they so much valued her preservation), she, with virtuous 
industry, or rather with marked victory over herself, "would pretend that 
what she liked and preferred gave her annoyance and pain ; and, on the 
contrary, that a thing would please and delight her for which in reality 
she felt repugnance and antipathy. It happened very often that things 
were done for her, or ordered, that she very much disliked, and things for 
bidden her which would have been very much to her taste. Hence, she 
was living in a continuous act of mortification and abnegation of her 
own will, and frequently in bodily pain and travail. What crowned 
this heroic exercise was the virtue of humility, by which this would 
have remained unknown (as the nuns never noticed it) if she had not 
indirectly betrayed herself to the other novices by suggesting to them 
this means of suffering for their greater perfection. They well under 
stood that, before proposing it to others, she had long adopted and 
practiced it. It is to be remarked that in hiding the truth Sister Mary 
Magdalen De-Pazzi was very careful not to offend against it in any way, 
because if we are not always bound to manifest the truth, we are never 
permitted to advance falsehood ; hence, that language of the world 



56 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

(sometimes adopted, alas ! even by those whose strict duty it is to diffuse 
the sovereign, unfailing light) which openly says yes for no, and vice 
versa, is at variance with the Gospel and with God. Consequently, it 
takes from society the foundation of justice, the only bond that makes 
compacts inviolable, insures friendship, guarantees peace, safety, and 
public weal ; and everybody, especially if weak and poor, has to-day 
cause for deeply regretting it. 

The light of Sister Mary Magdalen s great sanctity shone in her 
works, and even from her countenance some ray of God s spirit was 
apparent. By simply seeing her face, strangers judged her to be a 
nun of rare perfection. Hence, those girls who entered the monastery 
on trial, as we have seen happened at the beginning of her novitiate, 
felt irresistibly drawn towards the Saint by a hidden force of affection 
and reverence ; and if any one of them, as also happened, had entered 
with a doubt of her vocation for becoming a nun, by dealing with 
her she would feel her will become prodigiously deliberate and firm to 
remain there and not to serve God by the religious vows elsewhere. So 
powerful with the Saints is divine virtue, that it preaches by the 
actions and the very presence, no less than by words. A wonderful 
thing happened to a mere country girl who took on the habit of a lay- 
sister in this monastery. That she might more easily and efficaciously 
become instructed in the duties of a Religious, the confessor often 
exhorted her to stay in Sister Mary Magdalen s company ; but, on 
account of her ignorance and simplicity, she could not remember her 
name, though she greatly wished to. She could not distinguish the Saint 
from the rest, though, as she afterwards confessed, her face indicated 
to her a virtue altogether singular. She would ask the sisters to point 
her out to her ; and they, pleased at such marked simplicity, refused to 
comply ; but God, who has a predilection for a simple and ingenuous 
heart, consoled the lay-sister, and gave a new manifestation of the 
sanctity of His seraphic bride. One morning, whilst that religious com 
munity was hearing the Holy Mass in the choir, the lay-sister had a 
great desire to know which of the nuns was our Saint. L,ooking first 
at one and then at another, she saw a great light suddenly sur 
rounding one of them ; and in that light she perceived a most beautiful 
child, who caressed the nun. From this she became assured that this 
was the Saint ; and, not doubting but that the child was Jesus who so 
favored His beloved one, she was so overcome by sacred fear that, unable 
longer to endure such a sight, she was compelled to leave the choir, 
frightened, not even knowing whither she was going. In the corri 
dor which led from the interior sacristy to the choir, she was met by 
two nuns. They were surprised at her strange and uncertain move 
ments, and stopped her to ask the cause of her conduct. She openly 
related to them what she had seen and experienced, and then, having 
become quieted, she returned with them to the choir, where with great 
fervor she thanked God, who, by means of divine light, had assured her 
recognition of the person, and now reminded her of her name, Sister 
Mary Magdalen, in such a way that she would never forget it again. 
The simplicity of this lay-sister earned for her at other times similar 
favors, and especially when the Saint was making bread with the other 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZ2I. 57 

nuns this lay -sister saw Jesus around her in the same form, who would 
make light for her when she through her humility would carry the bread 
to the bakery. She also saw an image of the Virgin in relief, in the choir, 
raising her hand and blessing the Saint. These visions which God made 
use of to confirm her in her opinion of Sister Mary Magdalen s sanctity, 
caused her always to venerate the Saint with special respect and distinct 
and affectionate devotion. But the Lord God was not satisfied with 
decorating His servant with these splendors ; He wanted to form her 
entirely according to His own heart. 

On Tuesday, May 2ist, 1585, our Saint was busy working in the 
monastery, when, feeling an extraordinary throbbing of the heart, she 
resolved to return to the novitiate. She had scarcely arrived when 
she was thrown to the ground by an unseen force, and remained there 
a long time as if dead. Then she uttered these words : u Lord, what dost 
Thou want of me? perhaps the exterior for the interior?" And she 
understood that God desired that in future she should feed on bread and 
water only, except on feast-days, when she was to have lenten fare ; and 
this was to atone for offenses which sinners offered to God. God then 
showed her the reward prepared for those who, for His love, deprive 
themselves of the pleasures of the world, and, continuing in the ecstasy, 
she exclaimed with an accent of astonishment: u Oh! how sweet and 
charming is the place, but great are the works that must be performed 
by those who wish to reach there." As the fast prescribed for her 
seemed to her but a small work compared to the happiness she saw pre 
pared for her soul, she added : " If it were sufficient, O my God, for the 
salvation of creatures, I would live a thousand years in this world, and 
I would think myself happy. Thy Word made me ask that I might 
suffer some pain for Thy creatures ; Thou art satisfied with this ; so be 
it." She continued, then, to speak in this way : " Thou art truly pow 
erful, O my God, as, if Thou hadst not called me thus, and also thrown 
me to the ground, I would not have answered Thee. May Thy will 
always be done. I wish rather to die than to offend Thy exalted purity. 
But I wish to rest all in Thee ; as, by remaining united to Thee, I know 
that nothing will trouble me. Grant me, then, this favor, O my Jesus, 
that I may continually rest in Thy divine will." On the following 
Thursday, as she was reciting the divine office with another sister, she 
was again thrown to the ground ; and being immediately rapt in ecstasy, 
flushed in the face, and with her eyes fixed on heaven, she said with 
trebled force: "Adsum, adsum, adsum" U I am present;" and, in the 
person of the Eternal Father, she added : " I call thee that thou mayest 
follow My vocation and request, as I have already shown thee." And 
then, in her own person : " Thou art truly great and powerful." After 
this, she remained over half an hour in silent contemplation, and then 
came to herself. But she remained somewhat perplexed by this vision, as 
she saw herself in a painful dilemma not to fulfill, on one side, the Divine 
will, which she loved greatly ; and not to be able to avoid, on the other side, 
making herself singular in the community, to both of which her humble 
spirit was equally repugnant. Reflecting longer on it, she began to fear 
lest it might not be God who wanted her to lead such a mode of life. She 
dared not speak of it to her confessor, nor to anyone in the monastery, 



58 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

as she thought they would be opposed to her in this matter. But God, 
who exacted from her this peculiar mortification, on the following day 
that is, on Friday gave her additional proof of it. Whilst she was 
with the novices, again, and with even greater force, she was thrown to 
the ground. There she remained speechless for a while ; then, in the 
person of the Eternal Father, she said: u Crastina die nihil gusta- 
bis, nisi panem et aquam ; et si hoc non fades, retraham a te oculos 
meos To-morrow thou shalt taste but bread and water ; and, if thou 
failest to do it, I will withdraw My eyes from thee. But if thou 
wilt do what I have shown to thee, thus doing My will and that of 
the Word, who, with so much love gave and gives Himself to thee, 
I will be pleased in thee, as I have been thus far. And if thou 
wilt that thy work be acceptable to Me, let this exterior action which I 
demand of thee be wholly voluntary. It will be like a mirror to your 
mind ; and fear not what thy adversary will do against thee, as I will 
never let him prevail against thy person. I will give thy mind in charge 
of angels, that they may guard it. The Mother of My only-begotten Sou 
will be thy guardian, that thou mayst not lose the impress of the passion 
of the Word, which I have engraved on thy heart ; and be perfectly sure 
that thy desires will be unknown to the devil, thy enemy, and I will 
fulfill all thy wishes." Here she became silent; and, for a while, it 
seemed that her thought was in suspense ; then, sending forth a deep 
sigh, and crossing her arms, she bowed her head, and said of herself, 
wholly submissive to the Divine Will: "Non moriar, sed adimplebo 
opera tua""l shall not die * * * but will fulfill Thy works" (Ps. 
cxvii, 17). Having uttered these words-, she came to herself, and by the 
command of obedience which compelled her to manifest to some nuns, 
deputed for that purpose, all she saw or heard during her ecstasy, she at 
once faithfully related to them what we have said about the above three 
wonders of the omnipotence and goodness of God. Afterwards she 
spoke of it also to her father confessor, who, in common with the 
mothers, doubted lest some artifice of the devil might be concealed under 
such austerity and singularity of fast. Both he and they answered 
her that they would not permit her to lead such a peculiar life ; and 
that she must submit in obedience, and take the food prepared for the 
community. She promptly submitted to it ; not only with her will, but 
also with her judgment ; sure that if God wanted it, He would have 
moved the minds of those who held His place so that they might incline 
to her favor. In fact, Divine Providence was not slow to manifest 
in His faithful servant such signs of His supreme will, that no room 
could be left for anyone to doubt it. On the following day, she sat at 
the table for the common meal, intending, for the sake of obedience, to 
eat what the rest did. When she tried to do so, however, she felt such 
a revolting feeling at the stomach that she was unable to take even the 
least amount of soup or a drop of wine. If she would force herself to 
take even a little, she would be seized with a violent attack of vomiting, 
with hemorihages. Bread and water only could she take and retain 
naturally and with ease. Because of this, the confessor renewed the ex 
periment; and he and the nuns who had witnessed both the first and sec 
ond attacks, the. latter of which happened on the evening of the same day, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 59 

thought that to resist this desire of St. Mary Magdalen was to resist the 
pure will of God ; hence they allowed her to follow her will in this new 
mode of living so divinely outlined. And, glad beyond saying, for 
this concession which freed her from so many anxieties, on the succeeding 
day, which was the 25th of May, 1585, being nineteen years of age, she 
immediately began to fulfill the fast imposed upon her, of bread and 
water on ferial days, and lenten food on feast-days. She persevered in 
this fast with unalterable fidelity for several years, until the moment 
when it pleased God to order her to do otherwise. 

As far as possible, she took care also to hide the virtue of these acts, 
saying that God permitted her to do this on account of her sins, because 
of which she was unworthy to take food like the rest ; and, also, that 
this system was the best for her health for her humility ; in a word, 
reasons were not wanting for humiliating herself, although it had the 
opposite effect. The more she humbled herself, the higher grew the good 
opinion of her in the minds of others, according to the well-known Gos 
pel principle, that he who humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he who 
exalteth himself shall be humbled. On the 26th, being rapt in ecstasy, 
the Eternal Father again confirmed the manner of her taking food ; and 
He told her, moreover, that it was His will that her rest should not exceed 
five hours, and that the straw mattress alone was to be her ordinary bed. 
He also wanted her words to be words of meekness, of truth, of justice; 
her understanding to be as if dead, not only without investigating the 
things of others, but not even her own ; her memory to be forgetful of 
every other thing except the benefits received from Him ; her will de 
sirous of nothing in the world, but only intent on fulfilling what would 
be pleasing to Him. Finally, He wanted her to wholly resign herself 
to His providence, and place herself in His arms as if dead. And in 
truth, the life of St. Mary Magdalen was so directed by the will of God, 
and so submitted to the same, that it became a miracle of perfection, and 
a token of most complete sacrifice to the majesty of the Most High. 




6o 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 




CHAPTER XIIL 




GOD FORETELLS A FIVE-YEARS TRIAL FOR HER, AND SHE PASSES IT 

IN GREAT DESOLATION. VARIOUS TEMPTATIONS, AND THE 

REMEDIES EMPLOYED BY HER TO OVERCOME THEM. 



]O holy souls, not only the consolations but also the aridities 
of spirit are a heavenly gift, as they firmly believe that both 
the one and the other proceed from the same Hand that 
ceases not for a moment to provide for our welfare. Nay, 
as they draw from the desolations a stronger argument for 
doing penance, they become united through them with 
greater sweetness and efficacy to the Divine Goodness. 
Thus it happened to this great servant of God in the temp 
tations and trials she endured for five whole years, as she therein found 
the means to conform herself better to the Divine Will, and to obey 
Him who had so marvelously manifested everything to her. God made 
known to her that, like Daniel, she would enter the lion s den, viz., that 
she would be assailed and harassed by most horrible temptations ; but in 
the end, like refined gold, she would come out of the furnace of the 
tempting devils to become more acceptable to her most pure Spouse, 
Jesus. On the feast of the Holy Ghost, God revealed to her the great 
number of temptations she was to endure, and the Saint saw legions of 
devils under the form of most horrible beasts. She grew pale and 
trembled with fright at this monstrous spectacle ; but strengthened by 
virtue she offered herself to the Eternal Father, ready to drink the bitter 
chalice and ascend to Calvary, to consummate there the sacrifice of 
tribulation. After this offering she recovered from her ecstasy, which 
had lasted two hours. During this time, though she heard painful news, 
she was not, on the other hand, left without a sure and sweet token of 
her Spouse s love. She learned that on the same feast of the Holy 
Ghost He would infuse Himself into her soul, to render it, with an infusion 
of sweetness, strong against the pains of her assailed spirit ; and that the 
Eternal Word would be her guardian, together with the great Mother of 
God, Saint Augustine, Saint Angelo the Carmelite, and Saint Catherine 
of Siena, her tutelary Saints ; and that she would be strengthened with 
spiritual comforts drawn from the humanity of the Word, by whose per 
fection, being made constant, she would gain a splendid victory in all 
those most bitter combats, and triumph most gloriously and completely 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 6 1 

over hell. In the evening of that same day, having reentered the 
ecstasy, she again saw appearing before her a group of devils, who, with 
tremendous shouts and terrible antics, as though they were wild animals, 
threatened to kill and devour her. In the meanwhile, they suggested 
to her mind the most impious and wicked temptations, so that she 
became extremely sad and afflicted thereby. She uttered touching words, 
called upon heaven and earth and the inhabitants thereof to come to her 
rescue. Turning to God, she asked : "Where is the sun of Thy justice? 
To me it seems obscured. * * * Hast Thou, perchance, withdrawn Thy 
goodness from me ? I feel abandoned like a body without limbs, which, 
on account of all it suffers, cannot of itself procure any relief." The Lord 
gave her to understand that she was to endure these sufferings for the 
sake of her neighbors, as she could not, then, be of any advantage to them 
otherwise. Hence, she replied: "The accursed heretics, for I cannot 
call them by any other name, will cause me most cruel pain, because 
though they have once received Thy Spirit, O my God, yet they do not 
walk in it. Many brides also, weary of Thy restraint, w r ill provoke these 
most ferocious devils to assail me and increase my torment. If, O Word, 
these souls should return to Thee, I would be happy ; and I would be 
satisfied if the devils should come and torment me a thousand times. I 
see myself surrounded on every side by horrible monsters, and, hear 
ing their roars, I cannot keep myself from raising my voice also. 
Should I be forbidden to do it aloud, nobody will be able to prevent me 
from crying internally to my God, so that I shall be heard. These 
diabolical spirits would like, O my Jesus, to throw faith to the ground, do 
away with humility, scorn purity, and place in my heart, instead of 
resignation to Thee, a wicked will. I do not wonder, that, being unable 
to succeed in it, they return to attack me with such fierceness, and try 
to make so great a noise that I may not notice the inspiration which pro 
ceeds from Thee, O my God. My feelings are like those of one con 
demned to death, who endures as much pain at the sight of the axe that 
is to cut his head off, as at the very moment he receives the fatal stroke. 
I know very well, O my Lord, that if Thou shouldst lessen the power of 
Thy hand, they would take my life. They would truly take out my 
very entrails, therefore they rush furiously against me ; but my Spouse 
has put within me His spirit and heart, and, having thus placed me 
in this hard trial, wishes me to suffer for His creatures, that they may 
be converted to Him. I recollect, O Word, some few shades Thou 
gavest me, under the cover of which I must remain for some time that 
I may not hear such dreadful roars and terrible yells, and that I 
may not behold the horrible sight of the devils. But, O Eternal Word, 
I can find no escape from this lake, no matter whither I fly. What 
shall I do, then ? : * * Better it will be if I arm myself with courage 
and glory in suffering. Redime me a calumniantibus me! Gene- 
ratio mea ablata est et convuluta est a me. Oportet contristari in variis 
tentationibus. Timor et tremor venerunt super me, et contexerunt me 
tenebrce. sEstimatus sum tanquam mortuus a corde Redeem me 
from those who calumniate me (Ps. cxviii, 134). My generation is at 
an end and it is rolled away from me (Isai. xxxviii, 12). Now you must 
be made sorrowful in divers temptations (I Pet. i, 6). Fear and 



62 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

trembling are come upon me, and darkness hath covered me (Ps. liv, 6). 
I am deemed as one dead from the heart (Ps. xxx, 13). Stretch Thy 
right hand over me and give me strength. I know, O Word, that Thy 
goodness is pleased that I should not be deprived of the sense of grace 
till the coming of Thy vision (she meant the feast of the Most Holy 
Trinity) ; but that I should rather contemplate Thy greatness and that 
of Thy Holy Spirit." In fact, during the whole octave of Pente 
cost this sense of grace remained in the ecstatic soul of the Saint; 
but on the morning of Trinity Sunday, being still in ecstasy, she 
began to exclaim : " O loving Word, the time in which light will fail 
is drawing near, and darkness approaches. The light comes also, 
but is dark ; the darkness comes, too, but it is clear. I see the adver 
saries with their temptations getting together, one by one. Alas ! like 
bees around the flowers, they seem to surround the soul. But Thou, O 
Word, pressing down Thy hand a little, dost not let them rise, and 
Thou sendest those Saints chosen by Thee to introduce the soul under 
the most sweet shades already shown to me. Alas ! it is one thing to 
hear a thing spoken of and another thing to suffer it. It is meet, O 
Word, that Thou, on the day on which we celebrate the feast of the 
union I mean of the Most Holy Trinity shouldst prepare for thy 
bride an unusual and unknown union. Sufficit mihi gratia tua" 
During these ecstasies she also understood that she would have to 
endure not only the assaults of the devils, but that she should also pre 
pare herself to suffer not a little from her own nuns ; as some of them, 
seeing her so different from her former condition, would rise a gainst her; 
and the others, at least losing the favorable opinion they had of her, 
would abandon her, as the apostles abandoned Jesus in His passion. 
One of the principals of the monastery being present and hearing this, 
said with firmness : " If all should abandon thee and turn against 
thee, I will never forsake thee." The Saint answered thus: "Thou 
shalt be the first one, and thou shalt not leave this room before thou 
shalt already be changed and turned," and it so truly happened. For some 
time she uttered no other word. Showing great sadness in her counte 
nance, she gradually entered into a mortal lethargy ; then, as if with 
the effort exerted shortly before final dissolution, with open arms and 
with eyes looking as those of one suffering the last agony, she sent forth 
a cry of fright at the moment when she had to succumb to the taking 
of the sense of grace from her. Here her ecstasy ended, and our Saint 
passed from it to a life of desolation and dryness, in which she re 
mained for five years as though she had never tasted anything of God, 
but tasted all the enormity and horribleness of the temptations 
which it seems opportune here to describe separately, as follows : 

FIRST TEMPTATION. 
CONTINUOUS SIGHT OF THE DEVILS AND ARIDITY OF SPIRIT. 

The more Sister Mary Magdalen s soul remained void of heavenly 
comforts, the more her imagination became filled with phantoms and 
infernal spectres. Day and night, wherever she found herself, in 
whatsoever exercise, even of piety, her mind was pained by the sight of 




At the age of ten, she receives for the first time the Most Holy 
Communion (page 21). 

62 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 63 

ihe devil, who, appearing to her in the most horrible and diverse forms, 
always persistently tried to frighten her. Hence, the bride of Christ 
remained so afflicted, that, as she said, the pain of death would have 
been more bearable to her. She seemed to be in a veritable lion s den, 
where, being made a target for all the diabolical rage, there was no 
insult that could be contrived in hell which she was not made to suffer. In 
fact, there is no torment of spirit imaginable that this soul, though most 
innocent, did not endure during this hard trial. Sometimes she felt so 
strongly tempted that, against her will, she would struggle outwardly 
also, and her discourse was not always reasonable. What caused her the 
greatest pain was the thought that her acts of resistance to the 
temptations were not sufficient to save her from sin. It seemed to her 
as if her will seconded the wicked suggestions, and she were continually 
offending God (and let anyone who feels any great love for God say 
what anguish the fear of offending Him causes a soul !). Hence, these 
were her words : " I have become a pit of iniquity, the cause of all the 
evils and offenses which are committed against God ; so that I know not 
how Jesus and my fellow-creatures tolerate me on earth." Another time, 
she said that her mind appeared to her like a great dark and obscure 
chamber, in the midst of which could be seen the light of a very 
small lantern, that is that indefinable trace of good-will which cannot 
be so easily extinguished in one who has been penetrated by the 
divine flames. During this privation of intellectual light and devout 
sensibility, all the exercises of the Religion weighed upon her so much 
that she had to act by obedience in order to go to the choir, the 
refectory, and all other places, according to the orders of the community, 
whilst before she used to be naturally anxious and happy in obeying 
them. She continued the holy habit of private prayers, but she 
derived from them no comfort. Being found at prayer by a nun in a 
room next to the kitchen, and used as one, among pots and pans, with 
open doors and windows, and being asked by the nun why she had 
placed herself there in prayer rather than in a more convenient place, 
with great submission and bitterness of soul, she answered: " It is the 
same to me whether I pray here or elsewhere ; as, at any rate, I find 
myself much like these earthen pots ; I have no more strength to 
raise my mind to God ; I have become as a worm." This desolation 
of spirit would not have troubled or robbed her of her peace, only that 
she believed it a sign of God s anger. As to its being troublesome 
and painful, she was most ready to suffer everything to please God. 
Hence, on account of her being in such a condition and her inability to 
free herself from it, with incessant tears and sighs she would accuse 
herself of being utterly guilty. The continuous presenting to her 
imagination of all the offenses offered to the Divine Majesty as God had 
foretold her during her eight days ecstasy, when she was about to enter 
this lake of anguish was the cause of the greatest affliction to her. 

Now she saw the wicked insults offered to God by heretics, 
now those of bad Christians, now the perfidy of the Jews and the infidels ; 
but, above all, the monstrous ingratitude of those Religious who observe 
not the rules. At times, she felt the horror of the blasphemies 
uttered against God and the Saints ; at times, the odor of lascivious- 



../* 



64 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

ness and impurity ; the black cloud of pride ; the execrable stench 
of sacrilege ; the bitterness of enmity and strife. She saw these 
and other consequences of the passions, leading man to rebel, even 
against that God from whose power every impulse to our well-being 
essentially comes. All these things deeply wounded to the quick the 
heart of this innocent victim. Thus God wished to try the fortitude con 
ferred on her by the almost continuous heavenly vision which she enjoyed 
in the foregoing contemplations, so that no grace granted to her would 
remain without its exercise and test of virtue. 



SECOND TEMPTATION. 

SHE IS TEMPTED AGAINST FAITH ARTIFICE OF THE DEVIL TO 
HINDER HER FREQUENTING THE MOST HOLY EUCHARIST. 

The devil assailed the unconquerable faith of this great Soul with a 
snare which was as impudent as it was foolish. He wanted no less than 
to convince her that there was no God, nor after-life besides the earthly 
one, transitory and frail ; and that, therefore, it was vain and superfluous 
to suffer for the love of One who does not exist, and useless to labor for 
an eternal life which was purely imaginary, as everything ends with 
man s death. She felt this erroneous idea becoming so deeply, im 
pressed in her mind that she became so confused as to be incapable oi 
recalling any of the many powerful reasons to dissipate it. Though hei 
will was ever ready to give up life in any painful way for the confession 
of the faith, yet, not feeling the former ardor and light she wished to 
still have, it seemed to her as if she seconded the temptation ; which 
pained her heart exceedingly. Moreover, the enemy s cunning was re 
markable in the peculiar choice of the object of these assaults, which 
was the august Sacrament of the Altar. He is not ignorant of our 
having in the Eucharist every weapon to win any combat every good to 
enrich our souls. The frequency and the devotion with which St. Mary 
Magdalen made use of it displeased Satan very much; hence he gathered 
about him all his diabolical forces to distract the mind and the heart oi 
our Saint therefrom. He wished to destroy in her altogether the 
faith in this most august Sacrament, suggesting to her that it was 
idolatry and foolishness to adore what was introduced by the fanaticism 
or the interest of men ; and that, as a wise woman, she should rather 
despise than use a superstitious food. He then filled her with such 
repugnance against approaching Holy Communion, that, while formerly 
she found in it all her comfort and delight, now she felt the pain oi 
death. The temptations against faith molested her more and more in 
the act of receiving the Blessed Sacrament; and the devil, unable to 
subdue her to this unbelief, as the father of lies and contradiction, 
afflicted her on the other hand by inspiring her with the fear of receiving 
Holy Communion without being in a state of grace. It was easier to 
persuade her of this on account of her great humility her desolation 
and sadness of spirit of which she was not relieved, even when receiving 
Holy Communion. Her soul, therefore, was sorely afflicted ; because, 
in the very source of her delight, she found so many reasons for grief. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 65 

But the enemy of souls failed to make her diminish the usual frequency ; 
nay, to render herself stronger in such a war, she then made use of a 
remedy which had been suggested to her by the Queen of Heaven. It 
was to have it imposed on her by obedience never so much as to think of 
omitting Holy Communion. Having obtained this from the superioress, 
she answered her with promptness and joy: "I will try, with the help 
of Jesus, to do what has been imposed on me." From this act, she de 
rived so much strength against the temptation that she felt some respite 
from it. But the devil seeing that this means robbed him of the hope 
of victory, made use of external means to frighten the humble maid. 
As she approached the small window to receive Holy Communion, a 
horrid monster appeared to her imagination, which full of wrath and 
fury, its eyes flashing fire, its mouth vomiting flames, a naked sword in 
its hand threatened her with death if she dared to approach. At this 
sight, she became so dismayed that she had not strength to move a step 
farther; and it became necessary that the spiritual director should en 
courage and exhort her to approach without fear. As he saw the 
temptation did not cease, he prudently thought of giving her Holy 
Communion by herself until he knew her to be free from this trouble. 
Though the Communions of St. Mary Magdalen were deprived of 
spiritual light, yet they were not without profit, as she would draw from 
them* great courage and an invincible constancy to fight against such 
fierce adversaries. Though so long assailed, she never gave up the field to 
the enemy, nor did she doubt the Divine help. This, at times, made 
itself powerfully felt, and occasionally, in the course of those five years, 
even ineffably sweet ; so that, as a restorative of the spirit, it reinvigo- 
rated and stimulated her, even causing her to wish for new difficulties 
and new pains for the love of God. 

THIRD TEMPTATION. 

SHE IS TEMPTED TO BLASPHEMY AND CONTEMPT FOR SACRED 

IMAGES. 

The above temptation against faith was accompanied by the most 
horrible one of blasphemy ; for in the very act when the devil tried to 
make her disbelieve in God, he impiously excited her to blaspheme 
Him. This was not a mere suggestion, but was so live and fierce that 
she seemed to hear, as if they were present, the voices of the most wicked 
and impudent blasphemers who crowd together in a tavern and appear to 
vie with each other to see which of them can best turn himself into a 
Satan. This happened to her more particularly when reciting the divine 
office. Though she tried with all possible care to apply her mind and 
heart to sing the divine praises, the envious enemy, to prevent her 
doing this good, filled her ears with such execrable blasphemy that she 
was not only compelled to distract her attention, which was intent on 
doing contrary things, but, even in pronouncing the sacred words, it 
seemed to her that she pronounced, instead, those very blasphemies, so 
sharply was she tempted. All sorrowful and with a most touching 
expression she used to say to her companions: "Ah! sisters, pray to 



66 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

Jesus for me, lest, instead of praising God, I blaspheme Him !" It is 
useless to attempt to prove what painful torture this temptation was to 
her heart ; she who was so inflamed with the love of God and full of 
zeal for His glory that she would have submitted to the most severe 
labors, to the most cruel torments, even to be thrown alive into the fire, 
that God might be loved, blessed, and glorified. Let anyone think 
how deep a wound is naturally inflicted on one s heart by the hearing of 
calumnies and maledictions uttered against the visible object he loves 
and worships, and, worse, to find himself provoked to become an accom 
plice in them. Then comparing this earthly object, this worm crawl 
ing along in the mud, filthy in the extreme, with the God of majesty, 
of love, of glory, in whom all the beauties, and riches, and perfections 
of creation are united, let him judge, as far as possible, of the intensity 
of the sorrow that the above temptation caused to a soul like that of Saint 
Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi. Hence, she continually practiced acts in oppo- 
sition to that inward temptation, and outwardly recited, as well as she 
could use her voice, praises and benedictions to the Lord. 

Following the temptation of blasphemy, another, one of contempt 
for sacred images, came to assail her, the devil presenting to her all that 
seems most silly and ridiculous in them, so that she had to make a great 
effort to look at them with patient eyes. The enemy was vanquished by 
her constancy. Whilst she not only venerated them more fervently and 
contemplated them with presence of mind, praying before them, God, to 
the greater triumph of His invincible heroine, wrought several miracles, 
through her intercession, on her behalf, or for others, as we shall see in 
the course of this history, making use of the sacred images, that is, of 
those very means of which the malignant enemy made use to assail and 
fight her. 

FOURTH TEMPTATION. 
OF DESPAIR AND OF ABANDONING THE RELIGIOUS STATE. 

The sagacious enemy of souls did not fail to take advantage of the 
desolation and aridity of St. Mary Magdalen to assail her with a master 
stroke on that side where she least suspected an attack. On account of 
her excessive humility, as we have already seen, she readily believed 
herself unworthy of the Divine favor, and rather deserving of any pun 
ishment. Many of the beautiful communications, and many marked 
I privileges by which God had favored her in the preceding years had 
become like so many sharp thorns to her heart. She feared all might 
have been illusion with her, and that now she was justly punished "for 
them by the Divine Justice. Hence the devil redoubled his malign 
forces, supposing it to be very easy to lead her, as if by the hand, and 
by the road she herself had opened, though innocently and virtuously, 
to the depths of the abyss of despair. He suggested to her the most 
gloomy images of deceit, of terror, of vengeance. All was lost to her he 
told her, and any effort to raise herself to God was useless, since 
He had irrevocably rejected her; useless all prayers to appease Him 
since the sentence of reprobation had already been pronounced against 
er, and it was impossible to have it revoked ; useless all sacrifice 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 67 

as God does not accept the offerings of reprobate souls. Satan told her 
that Jesus, whom she called her Bridegroom, and in whom she delighted 
so much, was but her enemy ; the most shameful and terrible conse 
quences of His wrath she would soon feel, in the everlasting punishment 
of her hypocrisy, her false devotion, and her continuous sinning. Dis 
tressed and torn with anguish by such painful thoughts, especially by 
that of being, through her own fault, separated from her good God, and, 
seeing that her protestations of confidence and resignation were not 
responded to as she wished, on account of the barrenness of her spirit, she 
fell into such an excess of bitterness and discouragement that she posi 
tively regarded death to be a lesser evil than the continuance of such a bad 
life. "How," she would say, " can I live, being an enemy of God, and a 
scandal to the monastery and the whole world?" 

Thus she gradually came to wish for her death. Hotly pursued 
more and more by her enemy and her own imagination, which at this 
time was fully a prey to the phantom of terror, the thought made 
its way into her mind that the best thing for her would be to put an end 
to a life which had become to her wholly unbearable. It was the night 
preceding the feast of St. Andrew, Apostle. Sister Mary Magdalen was 
in the choir with the other sisters, reciting matin, when, carried away 1 by 
the vehemence of the temptation, she suddenly came out of the choir, 
and, quickly crossing part of the corridor and some cells, reached the 
dodr of the refectory towards which she was going. The pale light of a 
community lamp, placed at the end of the corridor, shone into it through 
two windows. The door of this room was not closed tightly, and 
allowed a glimmer of light to reach the wash-room, which adjoined. 
She entered this room, led more by her knowledge than by the feeble 
light. Stopping at the first table she grabbed a knife, and, with it in 
hand, she ran back to the choir so as not to give in to the infernal sug 
gestion, but rather to obtain a more complete victory over the enemy, 
for which end God permitted this aberration in her. In fact, she did 
not perceive that she was noticed by all the nuns, and did not pay any 
attention to them. They, naturally amazed at such a strange occur 
rence, anxiously asked her the reason for it, but without answering she 
swiftly ascended the Blessed Virgin s altar. There, placing the knife in 
Mary s hands, she knelt and prayed before her for some time w r ith the 
most touching expressions, asking her the grace to triumph over such a 
temptation. Then descending to the ground and having placed that 
same knife under her feet, she trampled upon it several times with the 
greatest contempt, subduing by this act o f strong determination the enemy 
and his arms. When she came to herself she continued with the nuns the 
recital of the divine praises. Another time, in order that the like temp 
tation would not go so far, she asked to be imprisoned in the cell of the 
mother prioress, where God, to reward her humility, granted her some 
thing of the old consolation, and strengthened her with new vigor to 
resist victoriously in this spiritual combat. She well needed it, as Satan 
was to attack her again, though less audacious in appearance, yet more 
dangerous in his true nature. Without openly offending her faith the 
enemy infested her mind, about the religious vocation, with such 
J:li oughts as these : " Thou art damned by thine own will only ; thoti 



68 THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 

didst mistake thy vocation, and, therefore, thou walkest over a road 
which for thee is all ruin. God wanted thee in the world, where thou 
mightest have done much good for thyself and thy fellow-creatures. 
Being a good mother of a family, thou wouldst have been the comfort of 
thy partner, the salvation of thy children, the edification of all. See, 
O wretched one, how much thou hast forever left behind thee! 
Buried in this monastery, thou losest thyself, and savest nobody. Re 
pair, therefore, whilst thou art able, at the present time, an evil which 
is about to become irreparable. Divest thyself of this habit ; leave this 
monastery ; go back to worldly society ; enter at once that road which 
Providence has traced for thee." So sagaciously importunate was this 
infernal enemy becoming in order to seduce the Virgin of Christ; but 
he found her to be so strong a bulwark that the arrows sent against it 
returned with double fury to the point of starting. One day, in order to 
overcome the attack, which was unusually overpowering, with a rope 
around her neck and her hands tied behind her, like one condemned to 
death, she went to the mother prioress, and in the presence of some sisters, 
asked, for the love of God, the religious habit. At another time, on a 
similar occasion, and perhaps a graver one, as she was particularly 
tempted to go to the main door to leave the cloister while the doorkeeper 
was absent, she ran to take the keys of the monastery, and, to confound 
the devil more, went to lay them at the foot of the Crucifix. Thus she 
bafHed the artifices of hell. She wept inconsolably over the sins she 
feared she was committing, judging herself to be the greatest sinner in 
the world, and, therefore, unworthy of living in the sacred cloister. 
She used to wonder why the earth did not open under her feet, espe 
cially when she was approaching Holy Communion. For all this God 
rewarded her, and gloriously placed her above all snares, no matter how 
malignant and formidable. 

FIFTH TEMPTATION. 
OF PRIDE AND DISOBEDIENCE. 

The arm of terror having proved of no avail to overthrow this 
valiant servant of Jesus, Lucifer turned his efforts to inspire her with 
his dearest sentiment, by which he sits over all, as prince in the kino-. 
dom of darkness, crowned with a crown of ignomy, of opprobium, and 
pt torment Always a liar, and inconsistent, as are also all his followers 
I in this world, he pretended to make her grow proud by the very means 
had used to draw her to despair. He would place under her 
eyes the many gifts with which God had endowed her, both in nature 
1 m virtue; the many celestial and extraordinary favors which proved 
I 7 n( l a d Ubt; the many communications of special love 
7 T/1 DlVme , ?- P USe ; ^rytKng, in a word, that could 
n meHtt ^ d h * ht / nd ^ory, and believe herself superior 

suhmi t V n f H , C SUddenly filled her With a repugnance to 
submit to the will of another, as if she were one who beim? guided 

frwT^WV?^ n , hUman C Unsd > nor to strict! "fol 

ow the orders of the Religion, which savors too much of materiality 

and, therefore, suits but rude and imperfect souls. But, oh ! how 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 69 

L,ucifer deceived himself when he hoped to shake and vanquish St. Mary 
Magdalen, in humility and obedience, virtues that were so deeply and firmly 
rooted in her that she seemed confirmed in them by the divine grace, as 
the Apostles were confirmed in all of them after the descent of the Holy 
Ghost. In fact, though strongly molested, it was not difficult for her 
to oppose contrary acts, as her habits naturally and easily led her to 
them. There was no case in which she was led to transgress the least 
rule or order of the superioress ; nay, by the very reason of being tempted, 
she became more solicitous and exact, both in humbling herself and in 
obeying. Sometimes she would renew in the presence of the other 
nuns the vow of obedience to the superioress ; often she would have her 
command her, in virtue of this obedience, to do all that was prescribed 
for her, and especially that towards which she had felt a repugnance. 
She submitted herself to all, and begged of all to humble and mortify her, 
in order, she said, that her pride might not be lifted up. In a particular 
manner, in order to derive from it the most legitimate and prompt effect, 
she requested it of the superioress, who, to please her in so holy a desire, 
and that her soul might be enriched more and more with celestial 
riches, now ordered her to ask pardon of the nuns, sometimes separately, 
sometimes all together in the refectory ; now- she ordered her to dis 
cipline herself or be disciplined by others ; now, with a rope around her 
neck and her hands tied behind, she directed her to kiss the nuns feet 
under the tables of the refectory. At times, she would make her get up 
from her seat and go around begging a little bread from the others for 
the love of God, and, having got it, eat it in the middle of the refectory. 
Knowing that from being thus mortified she truly derived great spiritual 
benefit, the superioress would address her with words of reproach and 
contempt ; she also charged other sisters to do the same. When they 
did this, out of obedience, the Saint stopped and listened to them with 
great modesty. Kneeling at their feet, and calling herself a sinner, she 
asked their pardon, ending with this motto, as humble in her sentiment 
as she was sincere : " May God count it as merit for you." Though the 
superioress knew that some apparent faults during the time of such a 
terrible combat were, in our Saint, rather the consequence of the fierce 
temptations assailing her, yet, for such faults, though they were most 
trifling, she bitterly reproached her before all. She imposed public 
penances on her, as, for instance, making her stretch herself on the floor 
before the doors through which all the nuns had to pass, they care 
fully trampling upon her ; tying her, with her hands behind, in some 
part of the monastery, where, all meeting, .every one of the sisters 
said something to mortify her. Moreover, keeping her continually 
occupied in the low duties of the kitchen, carrying hot coals or wood, 
drawing water, making fire, fixing and sweeping, or doing any 
other humiliating thing in the monastery, such as is imposed on the least 
of the servants. In a word, either by the direct will of God, or by His 
permission, this rather trying proceeding of the sisters, and the still more 
trying one of the superioress, were for her efficacious fires in the crucible 
of spiritual perfection on which she rested for these five years. She, 
who really felt in her soul the benefit of it, so cheerfully accepted all 
such things, that she seemed to have no other comfort in all trials than 



7O THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

to be humiliated and despised ; and she so truly delighted in them, that, 
being without them, she would seek after them, and sometimes take 
them of her own choice. On the eve of All Saints, in the year 1588, 
feeling herself greatly tempted to be disobedient, she blindfolded herself, 
and got a lay-sister, who supposed she had the permission of the 
superioress to do it, to tie her hands behind her with a rope, and then 
fasten her to some posts in the neighborhood of the choir. Being seen 
in such a condition by the mother prioress, and asked the reason why, 
she replied that she had done it because she had felt some difficulty in 
obeying; and, as her will was against binding herself to the sweet bond 
of obedience, therefore it was proper that her body should be bound by 
these ropes. With great fervor, she then begged that she would charge 
all the nuns, on entering the choir, to say these words to her, for her 
greater confusion : l Sister Mary Magdalen, learn to do as thou pleasest." 
The prioress did this, and all the nuns obeyed, though much confused 
and touched by the heroic virtue their dear sister practiced in that act, 
at the end of which she thanked them all and asked their forgiveness. 
Thus do the Saints act. God would not leave without some immediate 
reward a work of such marked perfection in His most faithful champion. 
No sooner was the bandage removed, and the rope loosened, than 
turning her eyes for a moment to that part of the choir which was 
visible, seeing a Crucifix, and thinking of how much He suffered 
for our salvation she was rapt in an ecstasy, during which she was 
wonderfully consoled, instructed, and strengthened by the divine love. 
Another time, in the same manner, and for the same end self-abase 
ment she got some one to fasten her to the grates of the choir, and 
obtained permission from the superioress that all the sisters should say 
to her : " Sister Mary Magdalen, this has befallen thee on account of thy 
faults, and because thou wantest to act too much according to thy will." 
Again, on another day, while she was contemplating ecstatically the ex 
cessive pains of the Divine Saviour, and becoming inflamed with the desire 
of imitating Him, she had an inspiration that it would be pleasing 
to Him if she were voluntarily to lie stretched across the door of the 
choir by which the nuns, who were inside, would necessarily have to 
come out. She did this with all solicitude and fidelity ; and the nuns, 
in customary obedience imposed by the superioress, became to her a 
repeated instrument of mortification. Thus, then, would she be humbled 
and despised, who, among them all, was a mirror of obedience; and thus 
the temptations, far from being to her a cause of loss, increased her 
merit and strengthened her in virtue. 

SIXTH TEMPTATION. 

OF GLUTTONY AND .OF IMPURITY TO CONQUER THIS LATTER 
SHE THROWS HERSELF AMONG THORNS. 

That instinct of nature which leads us to wish for what we have not 
yet tasted, now troubled our Saint in a persistent manner ; and he who 
tempted Christ in the desert presented ta her imagination whatever was 
most pleasing to the palate to induce her to wish for new and delicate 




In the same year in which she makes her vow of virginity, she 
receives a precious ring from her Divine Spouse (page 22). 

70 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 71 

viands, but, much more, to make her break the rule received from God, 
of living only on bread and water. So rigid and constant a fast dis 
pleased the enemy too much. If the body be well fed, he well knows how 
to use it to the detriment of the soul. He occupied himself, therefore, 
with great skill in entering this door, which, being the least suspected 
of possible danger, made the access easier. Very often during the day, 
when Sister Mary Magdalen, on account of her excessive abstinence, 
though approved of by God, felt a natural need of better nourishment, 
the enemy would inflame her with so violent a desire for some food, that 
sometimes she would show all those restless motions of the tongue and 
mouth that are wont to seize an extremely hungry and impatient person. 
Sumptuous tables and exquisite viands would then present themselves 
to her imagination, and particularly in passing the cupboards in which 
the supplies for the community were kept under key, she was so vividly 
affected that to her it seemed as though everything were exposed, and 
she even felt some sensations gratifying to her taste. With such sights 
and imaginary tastings she continued to be molested, even in the act of 
prayer, and sometimes in the very act of receiving Holy Communion ; 
so that it was most painful for her, in so far as it was not only contrary to 
the virtue of abstinence, so much practiced by her, but also to her natural 
inclination, by which, to say the least, she always abhorred gluttony. 
She said once to a sister, that God would not let her be troubled by the 
devil in anything that would molest her so much as this ; because glut 
tony seemed to her so unbecoming and ugly a vice, that she felt that no 
other temptation would humble and degrade her so much as this one. 
But the enemy, with all his violence, could not succeed in making her 
appetite for eating and drinking prevail and overcome our abstinent and 
mortified Magdalen. Even in regard to natural needs, she knew so exactly 
how to keep herself within the rule God had given her, that the devil came 
out of the combat confused and ashamed, and she with a new source of 
merit. The malign suggestion thus progressing by the way of the senses, 
he, who was not allowed to tempt Christ, because He was God, against so 
delicate and noble a virtue, did not let this sacred virgin go without 
making her pay the tribute almost common to human flesh. Though 
God had privileged her with so many favors, He would not have her 
altogether exempt from the struggle in which the children of men have 
to engage, for this angelic virtue of chastity. This is the most familiar, 
powerful, and efficacious arm the enemy finds in us against ourselves. 
This is the bait, by the seducing force of which, unfortunately, many 
persons illustrious for talent, learning, courage, and also for virtue, have 
succumbed. This is the passion which, exciting the lower part of our 
nature so unbecomingly, causes such a disorder and darkening of the 
powers, such enervation of the natural virtue, that it almost leads man 
to the brute state ; and, therefore, this is the road by which the greatest 
number of souls are irreparably lost. The impure enter not the 
Kingdom of Heaven, and to the nuptial chamber of the Lamb of God 
only the virgins have access, and they accompany Him whithersoever He 
goeth, singing with Him that celestial epithalamium which they alone 
have learned. These virgins are particularly the chosen ^ ones the 
flower of the Church of Jesus Christ, by whom He glorifies Himself, and 



72 THE LIKE AND WORKS OF 

who will ever be found in this, His earthly paradise, and will afterwards 
adorn the heavenly one. 

Sister Mary Magdalen was certainly a precious plant of this paradise, 
and the Divine Bridegroom gave evident signs of the delight He took in 
her virginity. Now, in order that her victories might be complete, and the 
triumph over this strong antagonist would be another gem in her crown, 
God permitted that for two years, that is, from 1585 to 1587, she would 
suffer in her body spurs of impure sensuality, and in her mind, impure 
fancies. But being generally accustomed to opposing and denying in 
herself even every desire and the least satisfaction of the sense ; bound by 
a particular vow to this celestial virtue, even from the age of ten years ; 
having guarded this virtue both in her mind and in her body with a 
perfection more angelic than human, she knew so well how to shield 
herself from the spurs, though most vehement, of concupiscence ; that 
not only her pure soul was not stained by it in the least, but she 
did not even apprehend what the devil wanted with such temptations. 
In the midst of them and during all her lifetime she always maintained 
herself in such simplicity and innocence, that when advanced in years, 
nay, being near to death, she said, as a solemn proof of the all-powerful 
virtue of the grace of Jesus Christ, which alone supports and strengthens 
corruptible human nature, that she ignored everything that sullied 
chastity. This was said in answering a novice who spoke to her in con 
fidence, fearing that she had contracted some stain. From this we infer 
as certain, either that God by a singular favor would not permit that 
so pure a soul, accustomed to raise itself and dwell among elevated 
and divine things, should be oppressed by such vile objects ; or that she, 
by the divine grace, was so careful and prompt in rejecting the imagina 
tions, and did so much violence to her mind in quenching the impure 
flames of sensuality, as not to permit herself to make the shortest reflec 
tion on them, or give them the simplest thought. Though she appre 
hended them as an evil thing, yet she never came to understand their 
object, or their intrinsic malice a rare privilege that God grants only to 
those souls that are destined to enjoy the rest of contemplation on the 
very breast of the Divine Love, as was the case of John alone among 
the Apostles. But this bride of Christ, extremely jealous of the integrity 
of her purity, was not satisfied with the opposition she offered to these 
temptations by her intellect and will ; and, feeling that a vice of sense 
and flesh proceeded from them, she began to chastise her own flesh with 
renewed zeal and excessive rigor. Besides taking but sparingly of bread 
and water; besides sleeping on the bare straw-bed, and this only for a 
short time ; besides doing the daily work of the servants of the monas 
tery, in which she engaged day and night, very often she would scourge 
herself piteously with iron instruments, gird herself with a very sharp 
cilicium, and treat her body in the worst and most excruciating manner. 
She even made herself a girdle of nails set in canvas, the points of which, 
projecting, horribly pierced her bare body, on which she wore that 
instrument of penance invented by her taste for suffering. All this was 
a great, but not altogether unusual, torment for her body. A wonder 
fully extraordinary one was that which she devised and executed on the 
eighth day of September, 1587. Feeling tempted in the flesh by a strong 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 73 

fire of impure sensuality, and as it seemed to her that she did not wholly 
quench it with all her inward efforts, she entered the room where the 
wood was kept, picked out the thorns and sticks she found there, 
and making a bundle of them, carried it to a more remote room. 
Shutting the door, she undressed, and like the glorious St. Benedict, 
placing it on the floor, she laid on it, and with great courage rolled her 
body over it, so that she was all scratched and wounded to such an 
extent that not only the thorns but also the floor was red with her 
blood, as the nuns witnessed, who found her there dressing herself. 
Thus those thorns, blossoming through her pure blood, became a crown 
to her virginity and infrangible arrows that subdued the enemy of purity 
and made him blush for shame on account of the intrepidity and 
heroism with which he was vanquished. When I think of the ex 
ample she has left us, I cannot understand why we feel such little shame 
as we look at our mode of life, so much opposed to this virtue. Most 
Christians, not to speak of unbelievers and bantering philosophers, who yet 
wish to be saved, pretend to use such different means in defense of this 
v i r t U e so delicate as to be likened unto a looking-glass, which is tar 
nished by the lightest breath. I do not know how they regard this virtue, 
who, professing to follow it to the most severe perfection, yet live among 
the comforts of gluttony, of sleep, and of soft feathers ; and place them 
selves among so many attractions, of movements, of forms, of graces, of 
words which are most powerful incentives to lust. Quite opposite was 
the view that the Saints took of it ; and of truth, we must all be out of 
the right path, if we pretend to say that they deluded themselves in 
their excessive zeal, or that God, contradicting Himself, wishes to 
save anyone who throws himself among the impure flames of sin and 
lives in the midst of them. Different by far, from the life led to-day by 
their respective followers, were the lives of the Apostles, their disciples, 
the primitive Christians, the inhabitants of the desert, the founders of 
the Religious Orders, and their first followers ; of so many martyrs, 
confessors, and sacred virgins of centuries gone by. 

SEVENTH TEMPTATION. 

SHE IS VISIBLY ASSAILED AND TORMENTED BY THE DEVIL, AND 
COMES OUT VICTORIOUS. 

Before proceeding to describe the personal and visible assaults 
St. Mary Magdalen had to endure from the devil, it behooves me to 
declare what the profession of faith of every Christian must be in regard 
to such things. Let not the pious reader regret this deviation from our 
history, little opportune though it maybe for him, as it is very important 
that we blunt the cynical sneer by which most people m our days 
answer the narration of diabolical influences, when they do not go so far 
as to openly deny them. It will be better for this book to be at times 
not altogether meant for the man more learned than devout, rather than to 
come to be considered as nothing more than a work worthy only o 
going through the hands of nuns and devotees, and no farther. Now 
Mos?s the oldest of historians, the sublimest of philosophers, the wisesi 



74 TH E LIFK AND WORKS OF 

of legislators, in presenting to us the grand spectacle in which God by 
His word created heaven and earth, and made man to His own image 
(and in man all mankind is included), paints for us the original state of 
innocence and happiness, and then the malice of the spirit tempter, and 
his appearance under the form of a serpent, and the fall of Adam and 
Bve, most fatal to their posterity. From Adam to Moses it was believed, 
at least by Abraham s descendants, that God having from the beginning 
viz., before He made man created His angels pure spirits, and free from 
all matter, and having placed them in a condition in which they were 
free to secure their eternal happiness by voluntarily submitting to their 
Creator, some of them permitted themselves to be seduced by their self- 
love, so that from luminous spirits they were changed into spirits of dark 
ness. Such belief was more clearly expounded from the epoch of Moses 
to that of Jesus Christ. In the Paralipomenons, in the Psalms, in Isaias, 
in Zacharias, and more distinctly in Job, we read of the apparitions and 
the power of Satan, prince of demons, to harm us mortals. Thus in 
the same book, and again in Daniel and in the book of Wisdom, open 
and clear mention is made of a place of eternal torment destined for 
rebellious angels and wicked men. Though at times idolatry deluged the 
earth, and ignorance and blindness enveloped men in numberless errors, 
still the idea that between God and man there were intermediate spirits, 
good and evil, was not obliterated by the Pagans, as we are assured by 
the authority of Plato, of Xenophon, of Apuleius, of Ptolemy, and other 
Pagan writers. The existence of a future life was also universally 
felt, though man was forgetting himself in a thousand vagaries by im 
agining it to be such as to suit his senses. The dreams of the metempsy- 
chosists, the court of justice of Minosses and Radamantes, the occupation 
of Charon, the Elysium and the Tartarus of mythology, are so many 
evident witnesses of the belief of all nations in the existence of beings 
superior to us by nature, and of a justice without appeal awaiting us at 
the end of this life. But whatever preceded the coming of Jesus Christ 
was but the effort of that insuperable tendency impressed by the Creator 
on the human soul, which could not and should not have its completion 
until the appearance of the splendor of divine revelation. No sooner 
did Jesus Christ appear on earth in His mortal flesh than those sparks 
of eternal truth, which had predisposed the human soul to it, became 
shining torches, at the light of which the entire world bowed its head. 
The doctrine of Jesus Christ, announced by example before it was by 
word, and afterwards confirmed by miracles, was destined to convert the 
universe. The Apostles preached it everywhere, and sealed it with their 
blood. During the persecutions by the emperors, whose pride was 
wounded to the quick by the principles of Christian equality, the fol 
lowers of Christ died for the faith, and, by their example, hundreds and 
thousands of idolaters were awakened to profess the doctrines received 
from the Apostles. The more tyrants invented tortures, the more was 
the courage of the martyrs increased against the fury of their perse 
cutors. 

The Church, already formed with St. Peter as the legitimate suc 
cessor of the Divine Master, passed triumphantly through the space 
of centuries. For eighteen centuries, from age to age, from people 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 75 

to people, she brought everywhere the name and the glory of her 
Founder. And we have her to-day as Jesus Christ established her. The 
sacred deposit of the Gospel, during the succession of two hundred and 
fifty-nine Pontiffs, through the most extraordinary vicissitudes, was not 
altered one syllable. Anyone can convince himself of it by a comparison 
with the oldest code. The Gospel, then, so much extolled to-day even 
by laymen and politicians, assuring us of the existence, sometimes even 
visible, of the good angels, clearly describes in the Apocalypse the fight 
which took place between the Archangel Michael and Lucifer, and the 
victory of the one over the other. It also describes hell, the place of 
all torments, into which the angels who rebelled have been thrown, 
and to which all who die in mortal sin shall be condemned. Giving to 
Lucifer the name Dragon, it will lead us to understand that his celestial 
knowledge and that of his followers was changed into ambitious cun 
ning ; that a malign envy took in them the place of charity, and their 
natural, greatness was turned into pride. Their happiness then became 
the sad satisfaction of securing companions for the abyss of miseries 
to which they had been sentenced, and their occupation the vile employ 
ment of seducing the universe. St. Peter represents the devil to us 
as a roaring lion going around to devour souls. St. Paul exhorts 
us with the most ardent zeal to stand prepared against the snares of 
Satan, the prince of this world that is, of all the wicked. All the four 
Evangelists unanimously relate many facts in which the devils visibly 
used their malice to the damage of humanity. Besides the audacity of 
Satan in presenting himself to Christ in the desert, and taking Him by 
the hand to tempt Him repeatedly, they relate how the same Divine 
Redeemer, in the presence of the multitude, delivered, not by any 
chemical or magical preparation, but by a simple word, by His command, 
various persons possessed and ill-treated by the devil. In some persons, 
He added to this the miracle of an instantaneous cure from an antecedent 
illness or defect of nature, as in the lunatic, in the deaf and dumb, and 
in the blind and dumb. Whilst these miracles could not be wrought to 
confirm an illusion, they stand as a most evident proof of the existence and 
the power of the devils. Besides, these miracles were of such a Divine 
character, that out of so many eyes riveted upon Christ, and so many ears 
attentive to His words, and so many enemies striving to charge Him 
with being an impostor, there was not one who succeeded in raising a 
doubt as to their reality. The Gospel goes on to relate how the Apostles 
and the disciples, in the name and by the virtue of their Divine Master, 
delivered many others possessed of the devil, sometimes accompany 
ing this with miracles, for another end. In the annals of the Church we 
find no person of any virtue who had not to endure terrible combats 
with the devil ; and we read of many instances in which the devil, 
assuming a visible form, attacked and .tormented persons of a holy life, 
but who, triumphing through the Divine assistance, exercised also on 
behalf of others the power of delivering those who are possessed, which 
power Christ left to His bride, the Church. From the beginning of the 
Christian era down to the last century, many have been the heretics, 
who, with their false doctrines, tried to disturb Catholicity ; many have 
been the dogmatical errors born of man s passions. But, among so 



76 THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 

many enemies and so many heresies, the existence and the nature of 
pure spirits, the distinguishing of them into good and wicked, the 
condemnation of these latter ones to eternal torment ; their sway over 
us, all these ideas which we derive from tradition, inspiration, reve 
lation, and experience have been almost universally respected. This 
deceitful triumph was reserved to the blind and proud delirium of the 
revolutionists of the last decade of the past century, who, combining in 
themselves all errors, tried to uproot and annihilate all truths, establish 
ing the worship of the goddess Reason. What neither Celsus, nor 
Porphyrius, nor Julian the Apostate dared to impugn, they all denied. 
What always existed, and, consequently, what alone had the character of 
truth, they pretended utterly to destroy. Everything was to give way 
to Reason. And this worship, having degenerated into the most mon 
strous tyranny, left such horrible traces of itself that everybody abhorred 
following it. Terrorism having been assuaged, and more moderate, 
though not less pernicious, maxims adopted, Rationalism, that, is, the 
system of believing only what one understands, sprang up. What a dis 
cordance of opinions this has necessarily caused, is evident and palpable 
from the enormous gradation of human intelligence. We may compare 
the light by which Catholicism triumphantly shines to the mid-day sun. 
Some persons pretend to look at it as they would at a lantern, through the 
corporal eye. Consequently, their sight is dazzled, and error takes pos 
session of them. It is a sad misfortune that on this the indifference and 
unbelief of to-day are based. Everybody wants to see, everybody wants to 
reason, and with no other guide than that of caprice, interest, or ambition. 
The sun of the Church of Christ, that measures its existence from the 
birth of the world, is considered to-day as being unable to guide the steps 
of man. And with a calm mind, even by persons of otherwise moderate 
opinions, the existence of spirits, the power of the devils, hell itself, 
and, consequently, the justice of God, and whatever belongs to this most 
essential attribute, are denied. The excess of ignorance and contradic 
tion lies in the audacity of those who boast of being followers of the 
Gospel, whilst they believe of it only what they suppose will favor their 
mode of thinking and living. To see Jesus Christ communing with the 
plebeians, exhorting the masses, sitting at the table with the publicans, 
picking out, as His first disciples, some fishermen that is, free men in 
the midst of the ocean, where no other law is known but that of heaven; 
to see, in a word, Jesus Christ always pleasant, always meek with the 
poor and afflicted, and, on the contrary, always severe with the rich, the 
ambitious, the hypocrite, all this pleases the world of to-day, that 
would propose the Divine Redeemer as a model of democracy. This I 
hold to be the only reason why such people believe in the sacred Gospel. 
Hence, they reject severity of morals and purity of heart, because 
these cost something to the appetites of carnal men. They reject what 
the Divine Wisdom placed beyond the limits of human comprehension, 
because earthly pride is unwilling to give way to mystery. They reject 
the diabolical assaults and possessions, and the miracles, because to-day 
they do not see the former, and the latter are not wrought as those same 
unbelievers would like to see them. They are similar in this to the 
Pharisees of old, who asked Christ to confirm His works by showing 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 77 

them some celestial prodigy. Finally, they reject the authority of the 
Church, because her ministers, they ^ay, are men of vices and crimes. 
Which, alas ! being sometimes true, instead of hurting, offers one of the 
most convincing proofs of the infallible and perpetual governmtnt of 
God over the Catholic Church. A moment s reflection will show how 
repugnant to good sense is this injustice of refusing to admit alike all 
the facts which proceed from the same principle of authority. As the 
faith of Christ tolerates no compromise, and as there is no article in the 
Gospel which claims our submission less than another, it follows that, 
if we refuse belief in the existence, the power, and even the visible work 
of the infernal spirits against man, in so far as God permits, we will be 
heretics and infidels, like those who deny all. If our belief in what 
remains proceeds not from God, it must simply be an illusion that will 
inevitably make us the victims of eternal misfortune. In so far as our 
dignity inspires us with hopes above those of the brutes, let us, at least, 
keep our faith intact, not going forward into it with that fatal why which 
caused the apostasy and condemnation of so many illustrious men. L,et 
us also appreciate what is suggested to us by the divine poet : 

" Mortals, remain contented at the Quia; 
For, if he had been able to see all, 
No need there were for Mary to give birth." 

DANTE, Purg., C. III. 

From the fierce persecutions with which hell assaulted St. Mary 
Magdalen De-Pazzi let us learn how precious virtue is, and how im 
portant the salvation of a soul washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. 

To our Saint it was also reserved to suffer torments in her body at 
the hands of the devil, in order that, like wheat chosen for paradise, she 
should pass through the hardships of all kinds of suffering, and, like gold 
well refined in the crucible of torments, she should become more puri 
fied for the glory of heaven, there to shine with most brilliant splendor. 
God gave liberty to the devils to torment her in all her senses; and they 
did so with so much vehemence and fury, that particularly through the 
eyesight, the hearing, and the sense of feeling, they persecuted her greatly 
above the ordinary strength of human nature. They appeared to her in 
horrible forms now of lions or rabid dogs, now of serpents or savage 
animals, and always in the act of assailing and devouring her. These 
a-saults would leave her livid and chilled as if in agony. " O Sister," 
she said once to a confidant of hers, "just imagine how much this hor 
rible sight of the devils must grieve my soul!" Another time, while 
she perspired excessively on account of the agitation caused her by the 
devil appearing to her in a monstrous shape, she called to her help St. 
Michael the Archangel, and then, turning to a Crucifix, she exclaimed: 
" O Word, O Word ! hi te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in czternum! - 
"In Thee, O Lord, I trusted, I shall not be confounded forever" (Ps. 
Ixx, i). Then turning to the enemy: "What dost thou want of me, 
horrible beast ? O bone Jesu! by the sight of the offenses offered to Thy 
Divine Majesty, and by this of my adversaries, I seem to taste hell. But 
if you devils swallow me, you will be compelled to throw me 
up Aeain, finding herself alone in a room, she was heard to combat 
with the devil, saving to him : " Depart from me, vile beast; what dosi 



78 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

thou want of me?" And, as if he attempted to insult her, she would 
again repeat: "Depart and do not approach me; I tell thee to take 
thyself away in the name of Jesus, and if I can order thee to do it, I 
order it." And then she prayed to God to lend her assistance. She was 
over two hours in this contest. Being asked by the superioress about 
what had happened, she told how the devil, in the form of a frightful 
beast, threatened to devour her. She was a martyr because of the 
torment with which her hearing was afflicted, as we have already said in the 
Third Temptation, for howls, roars, and blasphemies continuallyresounded 
in her ears, with such force and persistence that often it was found 
necessary to shake her bodily, that she might hear the human voice. 
The psalmody of the choir was heard by her only as a confused murmur. 
But the sense of feeling was the one which was to bring her the first 
palm of martyrdom. The devils threw to the ground that noble and 
tender body, weakened by her penances, in such a violent manner, that, 
to anyone who saw her, it was a wonder that she remained alive. The 
nuns who witnessed her actions were amazed at seeing her thrown to the 
ground, her body prone, making gesticulations and motions now with 
the head, now with the arms, now with the feet as if she were being 
struck, and then all sadness become pale and trembling. After having 
continued for three, four, or even five hours in this agony, she would 
appear with wounds and bruises, or, at least, extraordinarily weak in 
body. She herself would then relate, in obedience to the interrogation 
of the superioress, how the devils, having thrown her to the ground, 
struck and scourged her with hard sticks, or, turning themselves into 
vipers and serpents, entwined themselves around her, and bit her, so 
that she could not keep from writhing, as she felt such pain as though 
they were tearing her limbs to pieces. Neither time nor place gave 
truce to so painful a struggle. Sometimes in the choir she was thrown 
to the ground and struck during the recital of the divine office and in 
assisting at Holy Mass. One day in particular, she was struck so heavily 
in the face that it swelled, and it became necessary to doctor it for some 
time. Several times she was thrown down the stairs, and especially 
whilst she was going to Holy Communion, or to do some charitable 
deed. In this, though, the wonderful and miraculous assistance of God 
was made manifest. Being precipitated with great violence down a 
flight of twenty-six stone steps, it repeatedly happened that the nuns 
who had run at the noise, instead of finding her mangled would see her, 
to their ineffable wonder, safe and sound, arising in all tranquillity and 
continuing her occupation. It also happened that the devils dragged 
her through the choir, the corridors, and the cells of the monastery ; 
but to the sisters who witnessed such struggles, it was not given to see 
the hand that produced them, nor to afford opportune help to the 
sufferer. One evening, the Saint was in the room of the prioress when 
she was suddenly thrown to the ground. Her throat and face began to 
swell, and being forced to cough, as if she were being choked, pro 
fusely perspiring, she was heard to say : " I die ! I die ! I am choked ! " 
This strange occurrence, which was the work of diabolical artifices on 
this meek virgin, lasted three hours. After that time, she was free 
from pain for several days. All these things happened under the eyes 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



79 



of the nuns. All she outwardly suffered from terrors, torments, and 
contests, she made sufficiently clear when she said that, between the 
interior temptations and the external combats, she was so much occupied 
that time was not left her to offer herself to God. Most wonderful mys 
tery of the Divine Will in so innocent a creature! 

As this noble virgin entered with invincible spirit this den of 
infernal lions, boldly answering to the first assault u Sufficit mihi gratia 
tua" so she persevered in it for five years, never yielding to fear or diffi 
dence. She unflinchingly resisted, with vigor and valor, all the con 
spiracies of hell against her. The serenity of her countenance did not 
grow cloudy in the midst of so many sorrows and shades of evil sug 
gestion ; her heart did not grow despondent when seized by so much 
aridity of spirit and in the absence of spiritual consolation ; she did not 
complain of the bitterness of the pains she felt in her body, made a 
target for Lucifer s hatred. Always meek and peaceful amidst all manner 
of snares, always full of hope in God, and always firm and constant, 
even in the greatest and most dangerous struggles a lament never 
escaped that angelic mouth ; a motion was never noticed which might 
impair the equanimity of that spirit, always immovable in its resolution 
to please God whether in consolation or in affliction. Though from the 
physical torments she would grow pale and tremble in the heat of the 
fight, yet, with a more heavenly than earthly countenance, she would 
utter these words: "My Jesus, where art Thou?" The nuns some 
times insisted on affording relief to her in the excess of her suffering, but 
she would peacefully answer them : u Do you not remember that these 
things must be, and that it is the Divine Will I should pass through 
these temptations ? Let the devils do what they will, I know the Lord 
will not permit them to do more than my spirit can bear." Sometimes 
smiling at the very torments, she would say to the devil: "And after 
thou shalt have tormented me as thou wishest, what shalt thou have 
obtained? At any rate, Benedicam Dominum in omni temper e, semper 
laus ejus in ore meo " u I will bless the Lord at all times ; His praise 
shall be always in my mouth" (Ps. xxxiii, i). One day, to reproach 
them for their" impotence, after she had been thrown twice to the ground, 
she said to the devils : " You can only do to me what my Spouse per 
mits you to do." And she said particularly to one devil: "I do not deny 
thy being strong, horrible beast, and my being, of myself, weak ; but 
the Lord is near me, who is infinitely more powerful than thou." And, 
addressing them all, she said : " Do you not perceive, foolish and igno 
rant, that I am with my Jesus, and you can do me no harm ? Do you 
not perceive, also, that with all your attacks you will make me a more 
glorious victor ? " Encouraged by celestial protection, she showed her 
self to them in the act of triumphing. When she saw them in the choir 
trying to suggest vain thoughts to the minds of the nuns, to distract 
them from the divine praises ; when in the Communion chapel, to prevent 
their being recollected in God for that great act, and, in hearing God 
Word, to distract them with untimely ideas ; when in the refectory, t< 
stimulate their sense of gluttony to cause illness, and to withdraw their at 
tention from the spiritual reading ; when in the work-room, or in oti 
places of ordinary exercises, to make them slow and negligent ;- 



80 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

trepid, the cross in one hand and the discipline in the other, was chasing 
them all around, saying to the nuns : * Don t you see that all the monastery 
is infested by devils, who stay around us to tempt us ?" Being asked why 
she made no effort in the direction of the chapter, to shake the devils 
from it, she replied that they did not enter that place because of the acts 
of humility and mortification that were performed in it. 

We being docile, therefore, to the suggestions and teachings of the 
Catholic doctrine about the existence, nature, and condition of the infernal 
spirits, the facts of St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi s life thus far narrated 
are for us an ulterior confirmation of these things, as may be seen by the 
most obvious reasoning. In a soul naturally so good, so well cultivated by 
education and virtue, so favored by divine grace, such a contradiction of 
sentiments could not, of itself, appear so suddenly. Neither could that 
principle of sin, which unhappily is rooted in tmr hearts, pass to the act 
of molesting us, except by the force of exterior seducing circumstances, 
or by one s own wicked will. This is afterwards followed by fanaticism, 
as a consequence of it, and, at the same time, a cause of irregular and 
perverse imaginations. Outside of these causes, every movement arising 
in us which is opposed to the eternal law can be caused but by the 
external suggestions with which the devils go about seeking our ruin. 
Hence, this creature, ever innocent, protected by the sacred cloister and 
the devout practices, in common and in private, which she performed 
in it, with the most firm and constant disposition to throw herself 
into the fire rather than to commit sin, had an imagination which, if 
capable of excess, must be of virtue, and not of vice. These wicked 
tendencies, especially to blasphemy, cannot be attributed to anything 
but to the art of the devil. Nor can the sad phenomena of her body be 
explained by any other cause. Her physical condition, according to the 
testimony of the first doctors then in Florence, was not subject to any 
organic affection ; and the faculties of her soul, whose witnesses were 
her spiritual directors, who carefully studied everything extraordinary 
that happened in her, were never diverted from their freedom of action, 
though their activity sometimes would not correspond to her desire. 
Finally, in addition, the fact that she specifically foretold this infernal com 
bat, determining even the time, which, having been literally verified, seals 
the truth of the things above related with a most marked divine charac 
ter. It remains now for our instruction, that in the incontestable evi 
dence of this personal struggle, excited by hell more as a revenge than a 
simple temptation, and perceiving the rare sanctity of our Magdalen, we 
learn what power the devil has over us, and what and how great is the 
assistance of God in our behalf, whenever we do not render ourselves 
unworthy of it. And if such excessive and extraordinary aggressions 
are not heard of in our days, and we have no reason to fear that we may 
suffer them ourselves, we should fear none the less the ordinary temp 
tations tending more adroitly, though less openly, to lead us to per 
dition. Especially should we fear the living persons of whom the devil 
commonly makes use to interfere with our welfare, to divert us from the 
right path, and to ruin us utterly. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 8 1 

EIGHTH TEMPTATION. 

SHE IS MOLESTED AND CONTRADICTED BY HER NUNS. 

Unhappy is the man who fastens all his happiness to the opinion 
or the plaudits of the world. He lies down in the evening with but one 
thought, awakes in the morning with but one hope, and passes the day 
in seeing the dreams of the night vanish one by one. And if sometimes 
worldly laurels carry one triumphantly to the summit of the Capitol, ordi 
narily this serves but to hasten the ignominy of the Tarpejan rock. Well 
does the Holy Ghost warn us that cursed is the man who puts his trust 
and his happiness in another man. When we base our judgment on the 
estimation of others, in most cases our logic gives way to incoherence 
and folly. Our soul, created to the image of God, cannot be judged but 
by principles proceeding from God Himself ; otherwise, we will estimate 
one another with the most monstrous injustice and unreasonable 
ness. Experience teaches us this every day. To-day we raise to the 
sky what we shall to-morrow cast into the abyss ; to-day we erect the 
gibbet for him whom but yesterday we placed on the throne. The 
thousand motives which now incline us in favor of a person, are shortly 
afterwards turned into so many motives to condemn him, without 
the least remembrance of his worth. What more powerful and efficacious 
example of this can be found, than that which Jesus Christ Himself 
wished to leave us in His own person ? He, acclaimed by the people as 
the new King of Israel, made His triumphant entry into the earthly 
Jerusalem, where everybody vied in addressing Him with words of joy and 
acclamation. His most innocent life, His most wonderful doctrine, His 
modesty, benignity, meekness, all His virtues and His many miracles had 
finally brought the people to acknowledge His mission. But as those men 
still looked at Jesus Christ with a carnal eye, therefore, by the volubility 
and inconstancy of earthly vision, a few days afterwards the most 
horrible, the most execrable, and the most monstrous of crimes was com 
mitted by those very men against the sacred person of the Divine Re 
deemer. They had forgotten everything that a few moments before had 
moved them in His favor. Even the Apostles, already well purified in 
the spiritual sight, forgot somewhat the virtue of their Divine Master, 
although they had been for a long time the eye-witnesses thereof. 
The prophecies were thus fulfilled, and the way of light and truth 
was thrown wide open to us. Walking in it, let us not look for any 
reward from the world other than that of ingratitude and calumny. 
"Everyman," even Seneca says, " who walks in the right path must 
never get discouraged, nor stop at the shocks of falsehood that will assail 
him without fail." Our Saint, being so zealous an imitator of the suffer 
ings of our Divine Saviour, was to partake also in some manner of the 
mortification of the unjust judgment of the world. Domestic demons- 
demons clothed in human flesh were to make her feel their wickedness. 
She had, inspired by her Spouse Jesus, foretold to the sisters, as Christ 
did to His Apostles, that in the time of her tribulation they would turn 
against her, as we have already seen in the beginning of this chapter ; and 
to the nun who, like Peter, declared herself the most firm and faithful, she 



82 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

answered that before the rest did so, she would have given up her favor 
able opinion of her. The sisters saw that what she had foretold about 
this tribulation had come to pass ; they were cognizant of the exquisite 
virtues which adorned her soul; they knew that the spirit of God 
guided her constantly, even in the midst of the fiercest enemies. They 
could not, in the least, doubt that she would valiantly resist all the in 
fernal assaults, or that her pristine purity would suffer the least taint. 
Notwithstanding this, they all waged such war against her, that no mat 
ter how much we wish to ascribe this to Divine permission, it was noth 
ing, in fact, but the immediate effect of human ignorance and perversity. 
She was no more, for them, the former Magdalen ; the austerity of her 
past savored of ostentatious piety, and some even doubted that it might 
be but apparent, as the under-cook one day, being in the adjacent 
room for the purpose of preparing fruits for dinner, saw a sister who 
perfectly resembled Sister Mary Magdalen enter the kitchen, and, 
approaching the pot, take therefrom a piece of meat, with the appear 
ance of a desire to eat it. She was so scandalized at it, that, having 
spoken of it with very little discretion, she raised in a short time a great 
prattle at the expense of our Saint, and, out of about eighty female and 
claustral tongues composing that religious family, every one had to 
utter her word of criticism about this occurrence. Likewise, another 
time, at night, a sister of the appearance of Sister Mary Magdalen was 
seen to steal into a room and take something to eat. But in the first 
and in the second case the nuns were quieted down, though not all of 
them were convinced until an eye-witness asserted having seen Sister 
Mary Magdalen elsewhere at the time of the above-related occurrences, 
viz. : at the time of the first one, in the chapter ; and at the time of the 
second one, in the oratory of the novitiate. So that all those who had 
no difficulty in lending belief to such an assertion, and, on the other 
hand, would not countenance a mere calumny, had to infer that the 
devil, in both cases, had assumed the form of our Saint, and thus shown 
himself in those actions to discredit her. The fact is, that out of so 
many nuns, only two remained constant, that is, receded less than the 
others from the favorable opinion they had of this holy and noble virgin. 
The ecstasies and the extraordinary favors which had appeared so evi 
dent in her that there was not the least reason for doubting them, were 
now reputed to be mere frauds and diabolical illusions. Her many suffer 
ings during this time of desolation and trial were now believed to be con 
sequences of ill-will, or caprice, or, at least, negligence, because of which 
such strange things justly happened to her. The very miracles, as we will 
see, wrought through her at that time did not suffice to make the sisters 
hold the requisite good opinion of her. Hence, those among the sisters 
who were inclined to judge her with more benignity, and not to treat her as 
a hypocrite or a dreamer, considered her guilty of sloth. We may infer from 
this how many afflictions and what ill-treatment Magdalen had to endure 
for so long a time, and in so numerous a gathering of religious persons. 
When it is a question of hunting up the peculiarity of anyone living 
with them, who may be a standing reproach to their tepidity, they are 
worse than any class of lay-persons. Just as the Pharisees cried out 
"Blasphemy ! " when Christ forgave sins ; pronounced it abasement, when 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 83 

He consoled sinners ; declared it revolting and notorious impiety, when 
He healed the sick on the Sabbath-day, they are capable, being ani 
mated by the same Pharisaical spirit, of clothing with malice the most 
holy actions of their neighbors. It is not improbable that among so 
many sisters in the monastery there should be some of this description. 

But this sacred virgin, having triumphed over all the infernal fury 
above described, triumphed no less over all that these, her domestic devils 
in the flesh, could invent to her dishonor and torment. She, like the 
woman eulogized by the Holy Ghost, opposed silence, meekness, and 
benignity to the persecutions. Constant in her devout proceedings, she 
loved and venerated all, prayed for all, did good to all, but neither wished 
nor hoped for anything from any living person. She served God, like 
St. Paul, in good and bad renown alike ; and, leaving us the example of 
how a good name is to be preserved, she secured a true victory by faith, 
which places the whole world under our feet, as St. John teaches 
us: "ffezc est victoria qu<z vincit mundum, fides nostra " " And this is 
the victory which overcometh the world; our faith " (i John v, 4). 
There is no kind of temptation over which faith cannot triumph. Not 
by a cynical sentiment, which faces public opinion with contempt and 
derision, but, convinced that the scourge comes to us from the loving 
hand of God, who strikes us, as His children, for our best welfare, and 
makes us happy by placing us under an unjust persecution, we 
triumphantly ride over all our enemies. Justly is the Christian s vic 
tory attributed to faith ; because this shows us the joys we must hope 
for, excites us to the acquisition of them, and teaches us whence we 
must expect the help necessary to win and what motives we have for 
trusting in such help, because manifestly loyal is He who fights for us 
and with us. To faith, as to a root, hope and charity must be united, 
which three virtues assure us, according to St. Paul, that neither life nor 
death, neither men nor angels will separate us from the charity of Christ. 
By the Cross, invoked by us with a lively faith, all the infernal spirits 
are dispersed or rendered impotent to hurt our soul. By practicing the 
principle which faith proposes to us, that " he who is smitten on one 
cheek should turn the other to the smiter," we radically remove 
from our heart everything that may be opposed to our own good and 
that of society, and thus implant in the soul of the offender the most 
noble thoughts; unlike that inhuman principle of the world, that "he 
who receives a blow on the face, unless he takes revenge for it, is dis 
honored." By this principle the greatest infamy and degradation is 
brought on the Christian and the man, as on their skill, or rather the 
hazard of the point of a sword, they place the honor, the blood, and the 
life of man. If then, as believers in God, we wish not to be indifferent 
to our eternal destiny, let us reflect well on the fact that nobody shall be 
crowned unless he shall have legitimately fought in the necessary fight 
of this life, that is, with the arms of faith, left us by Jesus Christ, and 
employed by all the Saints. 

St Paul, chosen by God as the first proclaimer of this truth, had ex 
perienced in himself more than others the dangers which, at every step, 
threaten us with ruin the most powerful enemies who incessantly work 
our perdition ; and he, ever moved by God to guide us in the path of 



8 4 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 



our welfare, tells us distinctly: " Non coronabitur, nisi qui legitimc 
certaverit" " For he also that striveth for the mastery, is not crowned 
except he strive lawfully (2 Tim. ii, 5). If we also have the ambition 
to leave behind us an honorable name, let the truth be impressed on 
our mind that by no other path will we come to it but by that of virtue, 
though the world may follow the opposite. To immortalize the memory 
of anyone, we speak but of his moral and Christian virtues. To exalt a 
genius in art or science, if not possessing virtuous qualities, historians 
assiduously study to present him with some invented ones. To praise a 
sovereign, they begin with his beneficence ; a magistrate, with his rectitude; 
a rich man, with his liberality ; a poor man, with his patient submission. 
So that at the very moment when the world with its maxims is perse 
cuting virtue, it finds it necessary to acknowledge it in the initiative of 
any glorious undertaking. Therefore, by an irresistible logic, it ven 
erates the Saints above all ; and justly venerates Mary Magdalen De- 
Pazzi with a eulogy superior to that which will ever be given to those 
personages who become celebrated by despotism, by power, by war, by 
riches, by science proving every day that, as Fenelon says, 4 Man is 
always small when he is not great except by vanity." 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 




CHAPTER XIV. 




OF SOME SPIRITUAL COMFORTS GRANTED BY THE DIVINE GOODNESS 

TO ST. MARY MAGDALEN DURING THE ABOVE-DESCRIBED 

FIVE YEARS OF PROBATION. 



|HE SEES JESUS AS WHEN PlLATE PRESENTED HlM TO THE 
PEOPLE. He who carries his cross for the love of God never 
succumbs to its weight. Deified, so to say, by the merits 
of Christ, it contains in itself so much sweetness and relief 
that it often infuse s into the soul of the patient sufferer the 
most lively consolation. This faithful Bride of Christ for 
whom tribulations were like fuel that kindled in her more 
and more the fire of Divine love, during those five years, 
was comforted and consoled in various ways. Now by means of 
the Most Holy Sacrament ; now by being raised into ecstasy, and thus 
partaking of the celestial secrets ; and now by joyous and wonderful 
apparitions, either of her Divine Spouse, or of the Blessed Virgin, 
the angels, or her patron Saints ; but especially by the following occur 
rence: On February 5th, 1585, which, in that year, was Shrove-Thurs- 

day that is, the last Thursday of carnival the nuns were making, as 

was customary, a devout exercise, to atone for so many offenses which 
in those bacchanal days were wont to be offered to the Divine Majesty, 
when she, considering such offenses in the bitterness of her heart, was 
rapt in ecstasy, and the suffering Jesus appeared to her in the act and 
under the form in which the impious Pilate showed Him to the Hebrew 
people, saying : " Ecce Homo." At such a sight, inflamed with the most 
fervent desire to suffer, she exclaimed : " My Jesus, why cannot 
be the one who suffers as many pains, derisions, and abuses as those 
traitors make Thee suffer when Pilate shows Thee to the people? 
Why cannot I remove from Thy head that piercing crown that pains 
Thee so much, and put it on my own, as it is for me Thou wearest it, 
and for me Thou sufferest these pains and torments ? " Then she under 
stood that Jesus, to comply with her virtuous wish, would give her a 
precious gift, full at once of sadness and sweetness that is, the 3 
packet of mvrrh of His passion, such as St. Bernard had been favored 
with. Hence she, gladly and with sentiments of affection, begged of 
this Saint to prepare her to receive it, sanctifying her in the blood 
of Jesus. After this, naming separately the instruments of the passion of 



86 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

her Divine Spouse, whilst seeming to be in His embrace, she extended 
her hands as if in the act of receiving that great gift, and then, as 
though she had received it, pressed her hands closely to her breast and 
said: "Fasciculus myrrhcz dilectus meus mihi, inter ubera me a com- 
morabitur" U A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me: he shall abide 
between my breasts" (Cant, i, 12). Saying this, she fell to the ground, 
trembling, with manifest signs of great suffering ; and, in fact, as she 
afterwards related by obedience, at that moment, not only in her mind, 
but also in her body, she felt the most excruciating torments. Having 
come to herself shortly after, filled with fervor, and stronger and more 
courageous than ever, she continued her combat against the devils. 

2. SHE ENJOYS THE SIGHT OF THE INFANT JESUS. A few days after 
it pleased the Divine Goodness to favor this Virgin Saint in a manner 
not less precious and effectual. She had anxiously wished for a long time 
to see the Infant Jesus as He looked when He came from the immacu 
late womb of the most holy Mary. This wish was fully gratified when, 
being rapt in ecstasy, the Blessed Virgin appeared to her with the 
Divine Child as she wished to see Him, and placed Him in Mary Mag 
dalen s arms. The Saint was overcome with delight and joy, and 
seemed to melt with love. Words could not express the emotion and 
sentiments of tenderness to which she gave vent in this contemplation 
of the Infant Jesus. 

3. SHE IS COMFORTED BY THE GLORIOUS APPARITION OF ST. 

THOMAS AQUINAS. On the yth of March of the same year, 1585, the 
feast of ,St. Thomas Aquinas, as she was contemplating the glory of 
her patron Saint, she was rapt in an ecstasy, during which she saw him 
surrounded by a glorious light, and, being by him encouraged to persist 
dauntless in the combat, she was informed that her aridity of spirit was 
still to increase. Hence, recommending herself with great energy to 
the intercession of the Saint, she seemed to see and feel as though, before 
leaving her, he had anointed her heart and all her senses with an 
odorous and precious liquid, which left her spirit very cheerful and 
reinvigorated. 

4. SHE DRAWS CONSOLATION AND PROFIT FROM MEDITATING ON 
THE MYSTERY OF THE WORD INCARNATE. Moreover, on the feast of 
the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, in the same year, meditating on 
the most profound mystery of the Incarnation, she remained ecstatic for 
six whole hours, deriving therefrom very great spiritual comfort, as by 
means of celestial revelations she felt her understanding enlightened and 
her will strengthened, both of which in the darkness of the temptations 
she seemed to have lost. 

5. HER PAINS FOR SOME TIME GIVE WAY TO CONSOLATIONS, AS IT 
HAD BEEN FORETOLD TO HER. On the twentieth day of July of the 
following year, 1586, being the feast of St. Margaret, Virgin and Martyr, 
whilst she was in the choir reciting the divine office, her spirit was car 
ried out of her senses, and she understood how God would be pleased to 
slightly mitigate that spiritual conflict until the following month of 
October. It so happened, for, during that time, she was left unmolested 
by the diabolical vexations, enjoyed more tranquillity and consolation of 
Spirit, and had more frequent and remarkable ecstasies. 




She receives the holy habit of the Carmelite Order (page 37) 



86 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 87 

6. SHE is ASSURED OF NOT BEING DELUDED IN REGARD TO THE 
SUPERNATURAL GIFTS. But the following month of August was 
chosen by Divine Providence to calm and strengthen, in the most 
marked and efficacious manner, the troubled spirit of Mary Magdalen. On 
the eleventh day of the month she entered into a wonderful ecstasy, in 
which state she remained until the fifteenth, returning to her senses 
for but two hours each day, to say the divine office and take a little 
nourishment of bread and water. Little did she talk during these four 
days, and very much did she enjoy the highest communication between 
God and herself. As the sentiment of despair was the most apt to 
depress her spirit, for, on account of her humility, she continually feared 
to be deluded in her ecstasies and revelations, the benign Lord, who 
does not allow the humble of heart to be dejected, but rather wishes for 
their exaltation, came to her rescue and reassured Ffis beloved in her 
great affliction in a wonderful way. During the same month she 
had two ecstasies, one on the sixteenth and the other on the twenty- 
fifth, during which she was distinctly assured that the revelations and 
supernatural occurrences she enjoyed were not delusions of the devil, but 
pure consequences of God s love for her. In the meantime, God let her 
know that He wanted her, for fifteen days, to take nourishment but 
three times, namely, on the two Thursdays and the Sunday intervening ; 
taking on each Thursday, in the evening only, a little bread and wine, 
and Lenten diet on Sunday. This confirmed her more and more in 
regard to what was now made manifest to her. She made this injunc 
tion known to her spiritual father and the mother prioress, and, as they 
also wished to have some guarantee of the truth of these visions, they 
gladly granted her permission to follow it. In order to faithfully com 
ply with the Divine will, manifested to her on a Sunday, and having at 
the same time obtained permission, on the following Monday she under 
took this fast, so that she was without any nourishment at all until the 
evening of Thursday, when she took a small quantity of bread and 
wine ; and from then until the evening of the following Sunday, and so 
also during the second week she did not even take a drop of water, 
except what God had ordered her to take. The most holy Bucharistic 
Bread, which she received every morning, was the true and only 
restorative that helped her to pass through the fifteen days, even more 
active than usual at all the exercises of Religion. To the great astonish 
ment of the nuns, they never saw her tired or pale, nor showing a sign 
of weakness, much less of succumbing or giving way, on account of 
her excessive abstinence, as some of the nuns supposed would happen. 
The Lord, to reward such loyal and complete correspondence, con 
firmed her in the assurance of not being deceived, so that the enemy 
lost all hope of seducing her in this manner ; and likewise her confessor 
and the nuns, not being able to doubt such a sign s being from 
God, subdued to a great extent the fear they had begun to entertain 
about the truth of her actions and visions. 

7 JESUS APPEARS TO HER IN HlS GLORY, AND SHE SEES ALSO ST. 

JOHN THE EVANGELIST AND ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA. While she 
was in a most humble posture with a rope around her neck, as was 
said above, she kissed the feet of all the sisters. Afterward, full of 



88 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

spiritual joy, she withdrew to the choir, and there, being rapt in ecstasy, 
Jesus, glorious and resplendent, appeared to her, and, to reward this 
humiliation, lovingly received her into His arms, and with a kiss of divine 
love inebriated her with such sweetness that she gave evidence thereof 
in her countenance and her whole person. In the same ecstasy she saw 
St. John the Evangelist and St. Catherine of Siena, who, by means of 
strong chains, bound the devils she had vanquished and overcome. 

8. SHE SEES JESUS SCOURGED,; AND SHE HEARS HOW HER 
HUMILIATION is PLEASING TO GOD. Having procured somebody to 
tie her behind the book-stand of the choir, to her humiliation, in 
such a position she was rapt in ecstasy, and then she saw Jesus tied to 
the pillar and scourged. She was wonderfully consoled by this vision 
and encouraged to suffer every pain for the love of the suffering Jesus. 
Another time, aftej the act of humiliation in which she caused herself 
to be bound blindfolded to the grates of the choir, she, when loosened and 
unveiled, prostrated herself before the altar of the Blessed Virgin. 
Here she immovably fixed her eyes on the image and was raised into an 
ecstasy, during which the Lord told her that this action had pleased 
Him very much, as He regards closely and with love all acts of humility, 
and distantly and with contempt all acts of pride. She also under 
stood how the devils were confused at it ; and she seemed to hear their 
roars, as if they could not endure her humiliations. 

9. SHE SEES THE GLORY OF ST. AUGUSTINE. On the eve of St. 
Augustine s day, 1587, as she was reciting some psalms in honor of this 
Saint, she felt a great desire to see his glory. God complied with her 
desire. On the evening of the same day, as she was in the choir for the 
recitation of compline, she was rapt in ecstasy, and the vision of St 
Augustine, in his most refulgent glory, was presented to her imagination ; 
by which, as if that glory in some way redounded unto her, her eyes 
became brilliant with celestial joy, and in her countenance shone a cer 
tain divine beauty. She then addressed to the Saint most affectionate 
words. The following night, being also in the choir for matin, she saw, 
ecstatically, St. Augustine as glorious as the preceding night; and, 
remaining for a while in this contemplation, she finished the office 
by herself, in such a way that reciting one verse she would pass over 
the other in silence lasting as long as would be required by its 
recital. It was concluded from this that the Saint himself was her part 
ner in the psalmody. She also gave evidence of hearing at the same 
time the angelic melodies, as, listening very attentively, she burst into 
these words: " These songs are far different from those we engage in on 
earth!" Having ended thus the recital of matin, she remained in 
ecstatic contemplation until the time for Holy Communion, when, having 
received with ineffable sweetness and fervor the Eucharistic Bread, she 
came to herself from the ecstasy. In customary obedience, she related 
how God in this instance increased the strength of her spirit to over 
come her enemies and advance in spiritual perfection. 

10. THE BLESSED VIRGIN PUTS ON HER A WHITE VEIL. The 
ecstasy she had on the i7th of September of the same year, 1587, was 
very wonderful and effective. Being fiercely attacked in the virtue of 
chastity, as was related, and forbidden by her confessor and her mother 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 89 

superioress from again throwing herself among thorns, or doing any 
other injury to her body, she, by way of compensation, gave herself up 
to prayer with redoubled fervor, imploring above all the assistance 
of the Queen of virgins. On the same day, it happened that, hav 
ing withdrawn to a remote chamber, by prayers of a most suppliant 
devotion, and by most touching tears, she turned to the most pure 
Mother of God, that she might obtain for her such a victory over the 
impure temptations, that her virginity would not be stained in the least 
thereby. Having just made the request, the Blessed Virgin appeared to 
her in the form of a noble and tender mother, and, consoling her, told 
her to be calm, as in all such temptations she had never offended God ; 
"nay, by her courageous fight with the impure spirit, she had come out 
completely victorious, and, as a reward therefor, the Blessed Virgin put 
on her a pure white veil, and told her, moreover, that in future she 
would not again have to surfer the, temptations or suggestions of im 
purity. At this moment, Mary Magdalen interiorly felt as if all appetite 
of carnal concupiscence was being reduced, and that all the disordered 
fire of sensuality had been extinguished in an ineffable manner. In 
fact, during all her life, this angelic soul was not again molested by a 
desire of the flesh, nor even by any imagination or the least thought 
contrary to holy purity. 

II. JESUS CLOTHES HER WITH AN INVISIBLE RELIGIOUS HABIT, 
AND FR M HIM SHE RECEIVES SACRAMENTAL COMMUNION. During 

the tempi ition of forsaking the Religious habit, on the 5th of August, 
1588, after having resisted it with great strength, in order the better to 
remove it, she began to read attentively the life of St. Diego, her par 
ticular protector. While reading, she was alienated from her senses, and 
saw, in spirit, this Saint showing her a pure white habit which came 
out of the side of the Divine Redeemer. Magdalen being charmed 
with it, felt an ardent wish to be clothed with it, and, with great 
warmth, supplicated her Celestial Spouse to give it to her, and through 
the merits of St. Albert, Carmelite whose feast was being celebrated on 
that day to condescend to clothe her interiorly with it, that she might 
more efficaciously imitate the Saint whose life she was reading. Panting 
for it with all her heart, and keeping her eyes fixed on a Crucifix that 
stood before her, she saw, coming out of His side, a tunic even more 
beautiful and precious than the habit mentioned above ; He had in 
his right hand a scapular ; in His left, a cincture ; on His head, crowned 
with thorns, a white veil ; and, coining out of the wound in the neck, 
caused by carrying the cross, a shining mantle. This sight having 
filled her with the liveliest enthusiasm, she suddenly leaped upon the 
altar where -this Crucifix was, and there, performing all the acts which 
are wont to be made at the first reception of the Religious habit, and 
pronouncing the appropriate words, manifestly demonstrated that she 
received from the hands of Jesus that habit of religious form and 
divine origin. And, as if already dressed, she proceeded through the 
ceremonv, giving evidence that the Queen of Heaven placed the gar 
land on her head, and the light and the Crucifix in her hands, as is usually 
done with the new Religious. The angels well attended to the Dinging 
of the customary verses chanted by the nuns during the dressing, nor 



90 THE LIKE AND WORKS OK 

was sacramental Communion wanting in this ecstatic ceremony, as, at 
that point, she said the Confiteor and Domine, non sum digna, &c., and, 
in the attitude of receiving the Bread of Angels, she showed that Jesus 
Himself gave her Holy Communion. Being thereby overcome with 
joy, she addressed these affectionate words to the Divine Spouse whom 
she had received: " Dilectus meus candidus et rubicundus" "My 
beloved is white and ruddy (Cant, v, 10) . . . " Speciosus forma prtz 
filiis hominum" "Beautiful above the sons of men" (Ps. xliv, 3) . . . 
44 Electus ex millibus" "Chosen out of thousands" (Cant, v, 10). 
u Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis. Collocavit se in anima mea." 
Then, being excited by the greatest desire to lead everyone to this 
divine Sacrament, she subjoined : Dilata, Domine Jesu, cor meum, 
nt inducam omnem creaturam ad communionem corporis et sanguinis 
tui" And, giving vent to the sentiments she felt in her heart towards 
the Divine Goodness, she exclaimed: u Quam bonus Israel Deus /" 
Then, taking the Crucifix out of which she had seen the habit come, and 
having thanked the Lord for all the graces with which He had favored 
her, and recommended to Him the salvation of all souls, she gave it to 
all the nuns present, that they might kiss it. Finally, coming to herself 
from the rapture, she placed before the superioress the plain mani 
festation of the above-mentioned favors which she had enjoyed ecstati 
cally for the space of three hours. 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZt. 





CHAPTER XV. 

SHE SEES THE SOUL OF ONE OF HER BROTHERS IN PURGATORY, AND 

UNDERSTANDS THE EXCESSIVENESS OF THE PAINS BY 

WHICH SOME VICES ARE PUNISHED THEREIN. 



|N June of 1587, a brother of the Saint died. Whilst she 
was praying to God for his soul, she was transported in 
imagination into purgatory, where she saw that soul suffer 
ing unutterable torments. At such a sight she prayed with 
redoubled fervor to the Divine Goodness for its deliverance ; 
and having remained in devout prayer for over half an hour, 
she came to herself, much terrified. Then, with her eyes 
filled with tears of sadness, she went to the superioress, and, 
falling on her knees at her feet, said in a tone of amazement and sorrow: 
"O Mother! great, indeed, are the pains which the souls suffer in purga 
tory ! I would never have thought them to be so intense, had God not 
given me some light in regard to them." Also, on the day following, medi 
tating on those pains, she fell into a painful alienation from the senses, 
during which, turning to heaven, she exclaimed: "O my God, my heart 
cannot bear to live on earth and converse with creatures after such a 
sight." But on the evening of the day following, whilst she was in the 
garden with the other nuns, her spirit wandered at greater length, and 
more distinctly among the various conditions of the suffering souls. 
With a sad and pale countenance, her eyes showing the sorrowful object 
which absorbed her, with a grave bearing, she started and at a slow pace 
went around the garden, and, stopping now here and now there, gave 
evidence of seeing most excessive and diverse pains. From the words 
she uttered, it seemed as if in one place she saw the pains of the Reli 
gious ; in another, those of the hypocrites ; then those of the ignorant ; 
then those of the disobedient ; here, those of the impatient; there, those 
of the liars ; besides those of the ambitious, the proud, the avaricious, 
and, lastly, those of the ungrateful. Such was the terror that seized 
her on beholding this sight, and such the compassion she felt for the 
sufferings of others, that, because of the intensity and variety of feeling, 
now she would stoop down to the ground, now sadly shake her head, 
now clasp her hands, now, raising her eyes to heaven, with deep sighs, 
address to God the most fervent prayers for the suffering souls, and now 
invite heaven and earth to share in her distress. She would also turn 
herself to the poor souls, now addressing words of compassion to them ; 
now reproaching them for the sins for which they were tortured^ and 
now comforting them by the hope of the joy they expected. So lively 



<)2 THE LIFR AND WORKS OF 

were the acts she performed, so fervent and resolute the words she 
uttered in this ecstasy, that she actually appeared to see those torments 
with her corporal eyes ; and she so touched the nuns present as even to 
make them shed tears, and enkindle in all in the monastery a permanent 
fervor of praying to God for the souls in purgatory. Among the remark 
able things she said about these pains, was that " all torments endured 
by the martyrs are like being in a delicious garden, compared to what 
the souls in purgatory suffer;" and then, when out of the rapture, she 
added that " those pains were so terrible that if in seeing them she had 
not had the assistance of her guardian angel and St. Augustine, who 
continually accompanied her in that place, she could not have endured 
such a sight." From this vision she learned how to understand and better 
venerate the perfection of the purity of God, who does not permit to 
enter into His kingdom any but souls purified and cleansed of even the 
least stain of guilt ; and she resolved to hate sin more, resist the tempta 
tions with greater strength, and with frequent prayers and expiatory 
deeds relieve the suffering souls. Among these, cutting off by the arm 
of faith all the doubts that audacious and foolish unbel ief present to us, 
we should reflect that there are now, also, our relatives and friends, who 
anxiously await our mercy. Oh, if it would only be given us to hear 
their plaintive appeals ! Like St. Mary Magdalen, let us also revive 
our faith and fervor on behalf of those blessed souls ! None of us are 
free from at least some obligation towards the dead. The strictest duties 
of acknowledgment, of gratitude, of justice call upon us to help them. 
Nor can we flatter ourselves that we have nobody there belonging to 
us by some title ; as it is very seldom that one may leave this mortal 
life having no need of purification. "No man is without sin," teaches 
the Apostle. " No creature can justify herself before God," says Job. 
The mercy of God, it is true, forgives all ; but His justice retains 
some part of the debt, which we must pay in the next life before 
our souls can sit at the banquet of the Lamb, like immaculate daughters 
of Zion. Hence, it is also to our own interest to relieve the suffering 
souls, as it being almost inevitable that we will pass through or rather 
remain for some time in that place of sighs and desires, by shortening for 
them the road to heaven, we make it easier for ourselves ; and by obtain 
ing for them the possession of the sovereign good, we render ourselves 
less unworthy of possessing it, and consequently we diminish the amount 
of our debts and shorten the time of our deliverance. ( Do good unto 
the just soul," says the wise man, "and thou shalt be rewarded for it." 
It is not faith alone, nor the Church only, that reminds us of the needs of 
the dead; but a universal custom, as old as the world, plainly proves that 
God Himself has implanted in man such pious and noble sentiments for 
the memory of the departed, as if to admonish us of the future survival, 
to which we are immortally privileged. The Church proposes several 
means of fulfilling so solemn and sacred a duty, as suffrages of piety; but 
our heart has full liberty of choice among all virtuous works. Even the 
merest thought directed to good, God accepts in expiation of the faults 
of others. Let us, then, remember to place, with Tobias, our bread and 
our wine on the sepulchre of the just, that is, to offer daily for them 
some sacrifice to the Lord. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



93 







CHAPTER XVL 

BY THE WILL OF GOD SHE TAKES OFF HER SHOES AND STOCKINGS 
AND PUTS ON THE POOREST TUNIC. 




ST. GREGORY, commenting on these words of the 
Divine Master " Qui non renuntiat omnibus qu<z possidet, 
non potest meus esse discipuhis " said that he who under 
takes to fight the devil must put off the vestments of earthly 
things : " Qui contra diabolum ad certamen proper at, vesti- 
menta abiiciat, ne succumbat" Thus God, who wished the 
greatest perfection for this fighting soul, having placed it in 
this fight as if in an encounter with the devil, notwith 
standing her being divested of every earthly thing that is, of all attach 
ments to this world, which are just the vestments meant by the above 
text yet He also imposed on her the literal observance of such a 
precept, so that the lightness of the body might correspond to the prompt 
attitude of the spirit in victoriously fighting all her enemies. It was 
the 5th of July, 1587, when God, having taken this faithful servant 
into ecstasy, gave her to understand it to be His will that. she should go 
barefooted, choose the meanest among the habits of the Religious, and 
take for herself the poorest cell and the most wretched bed. She, 
without interposing a single thought of delay, being still in ecstasy, 
took off her shoes and stockings, and, going to her cell, removed there 
from every object, even the least one, with the exception of a Crucifix 
on the little altar; she also stripped the bed, leaving only a straw 
mattress and a board. Then, going to the room where the nuns habits 
were kept and repaired, she opened the closets to see what tunics they 
contained. Selecting the most worn and patched one, she withdrew to 
another room, where, taking off the one she had on, she put on the 
other. The contentment and joy of her heart at seeing herself so meanly 
clad for the love of God was so great, that, fixing her eyes on heaven, 
she thanked Divine Providence for it as for a special benefit, and, with 
unutterable emotion of affection, recited the Te Deum. After this, 
making a bundle of her former habit, she brought it to the room of the 
mother superioress, and, taking an inkstand, with pen and paper, imme 
diately went to the choir, and then ascending the altar of the Blessed 
Virgin, and kneeling down, placed the paper in the bosom of the sacred 
image, with her profession renewed in writing upon it, in these words : 



94 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

u I, Sister Mary Magdalen, make profession of and promise to God to His 
most pure Mother, the Virgin Mary, to St. Catherine of Siena, and to 
Francis the Seraphic, and to all the celestial court obedience, chastity, 
and poverty in the manner in which God at this moment makes me 
understand and know ; with a firm purpose of never leaving it unless I 
should have a true light, making me know that it is pleasing to Him, as 
I now understand that it is truly Himself who wants me to observe this 
poverty; hence, confiding in His help and mercy, I make this profession 
in manu puritatis Maricz " u in the hands of Mary s purity." 

Whilst she wrote this spontaneous formula, she kept her left 
hand continually on the hands of the image. Then laying down 
the pen, with her right hand on the inkstand, and gravely stretching 
out her left hand on the paper, and, finally joining both of them 
with energy, she said with a firm voice : "If anybody shall tell me 
that I invent a new rule, I will answer that it is no novelty, but simply 
perfecting my rule, as all should do." She then spoke of holy poverty 
in such a manner as to excite in all the sisters who heard her a great 
desire to observe it minutely. Finally, turning again to the Blessed 
Virgin, with affectionate and pressing words, she begged that she would 
take her under her constant and particular protection, and help her to do 
all that God had manifested to her that she should do. Then, coming 
to herself from her rapture, she went to the mother prioress, and falling 
on her knees, with her hands joined, entreated her in the name of God 
not to prevent her following that mode of life which Heaven so evi 
dently dictated for her. The prioress answered at the moment, with all 
prudence, that it was necessary to inform the spiritual father, and then 
all should submit to his advice. Her desire having been made known 
to the confessor, before he granted the permission he wished to assure 
himself, by a new trial, of the obedience of Sister Mary Magdalen, 
thinking also that he thereby would ascertain whether there was any 
diabolical deception in it. Hence he positively commanded her to put 
on her shoes and stockings, and clothe herself with her usual vestments. 
The Saint felt an extreme disappointment in finding her spiritual director 
differ from the revelation just narrated, and the doubt arose in her mind 
that perhaps she had been deceived, as she could not believe a decided 
opposition in her spiritual father possible, if what she intended doing 
were from God. This grave doubt caused her to burst into tears; still, 
wholly resigned, she obeyed. But the Lord did not cease to inspire her 
with her former sentiment, as He wished it carried into effect absolutely. 
He repeated it to her several times; and on the 2d of the following 
month, August, raising her into ecstasy again, He made her feel an 
irresistible tendency to repeat the above-described action. Actually 
unable to overcome the divine impulse, she took off, as before, her shoes 
and stockings, looked for the poorest tunic, which, for the sake of 
obedience she had left off, and, in taking it up again, said with a tremu 
lous voice: " My God, when I shall be with Thee, I will obey Thee; 
when I shall be with them, I will obey them. Give us light here 
below." The mother prioress saw and heard her, and, showing herself 
to her with an imposing appearance, thus spoke to her : " Sister Mary 
Magdalen, for obedience sake, give me these vestments, and do not 




Whilst reciting the Divine Office in the choir, she receives the 
blessing of the Blessed Virgin ( page 57). 



94 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 95 

clothe yourself with them ; put on your stockings and shoes again." 
At this voice of obedience, the Saint came again to herself from her 
rapture, and promptly gave up to the superioress the tunic asked for, 
and put on the stockings and the shoes ; but something wonderful fol 
lowed. Her feet began to swell, and they pained her so that she could 
not stand on them. She could not walk except on her hands and 
knees; consequently, she was compelled to move in this way on the 
ground, and when she was to receive Holy Communion she had to be 
carried on the arms of the other sisters. Having continued several days 
in this distress, the spiritual father thought it a sufficient indication that 
it was the will of God that she should follow such a mode of poverty. 
He, therefore, gave his affirmative notification to the mother prioress, 
and she said to St. Mary Magdalen : " If you believe this to be God s 
will, the spiritual father gives you permission to go barefooted, according 
to His command." Immediately Magdalen took off her shoes and 
stockings, and at the same time no less wonderful than in the pre 
ceding occurrence all pain in her feet ceased, and the sisters noticed 
the swelling effectively decreasing. She was now ready to move and 
walk without pain ; and, in fact, she went quietly and without delay to 
the choir, where, before the usual altar of the Blessed Virgin, she gave 
to God the most fervent thanks for having thus made His Divine Will 
manifest to her superiors. After this, she began to obey this command 
of God in a most severe manner, dressing herself in the patched and 
wornout tunic, and going barefooted continually for three years, suffering 
such cruel pains in winter that, sometimes, when walking on the 
ice in the garden, blood would flow from her feet, because of the 
delicacy of her skin. But she never spoke a word of complaint, nor did 
she ever adopt or accept any relief. At the end of the five years of pro 
bation, having, as we shall see, an inspiration from God, she again put 
on her shoes and slippers, but not her stockings, except during her last 
illness. She practiced the same poverty with regard to her cell and 
habit until her death, in reward for which she was introduced into 
heaven to enjoy unfading delights. 




96 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 




^ 



CHAPTER XVIL 

BY SOME MIRACLES WROUGHT DURING THIS TIME, GOD CON 
FIRMS THAT SUCH A PROBATION CAME FROM HIM. 



]HE better to convince those spirits who doubted the sanctity 
of Mary Magdalen, of their injustice, God determined by the 
following miracles to manifest to the eyes of the world, 
even in the very midst of her trials, how much her spirit 
was adorned with it. 

I. SHE RESTORES TO HEALTH A LAY-SlSTER WHO 
WAS ALMOST DYING. In 1587, Sister Fede de Domenica 
da Legnaja, a lay-sister in the monastery of St. Maria degli 
Angeli, was suffering from the contraction of her limbs, and was swollen 
from head to foot, her left side having become a span shorter than the 
other. In consequence of this contraction she could neither move her 
hands nor her head, and suffered most cruel pains throughout her body, 
which gave her not a moment s rest. Troubled for several months by this 
ever-increasing malady, she had such little hope of life that the physi 
cians, considering any further visit useless, abandoned her altogether to 
Divine Providence. The sufferer, in the absence of all comfort from 
human science, felt a great confidence in the virtues of her fellow -sister, 
Mary Magdalen, arise with unusual strength in her soul. It was the 
month of July of the above year. Our Saint, counseled by the spirit of 
God, instead of immediately granting the request, as according to her 
natural piety she would have done, said: "Tell Sister Fede that to-day 
is not the time ; let her have patience and prepare for to-morrow at 
Vespers time, when I will visit her." The next day, at the time 
appointed, the Saint, being in the oratory of the novices in ecstasy, kneel 
ing before an image of the Virgin, suddenly arose to her feet, and taking 
the image in her hands, she went with it to the bed of the sick sister, 
placed the image on her, and kneeling, with suppliant hands, addressed 
to Heaven in the meanwhile the most fervent prayers for the health of 
her sick fellow-sister. But a few minutes elapsed before the sick sister 
moved her arms, which before she could not do at all, took the image 
between her hands and kept it there firmly ; and then our healer arose, 
pronouncing with great feeling these words : " O Lord, . Thy .will 
be done;" and made the sign of the cross on the patient with the 
image. Suddenly all the nerves of the contracted limbs extended, the 
swelling disappeared, the pains ceased, and she was wholly cured, 
so that she would have left her bed at once, had not the sisters prevented 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



97 



her doing so then. On the following morning, meeting with no opposi 
tion, she arose fully cured, and a few days afterwards (it was not per 
mitted her before by obedience) this Sister Fede who had been almost 
dying, returned to her usual exercises, which were the most laborious in 
the monastery. 

2. SHE FREES A GlRL WHO WAS POSSESSED BY THE DEVIL. 
Catherine, daughter of Carlo Spini, a noble Florentine maiden, being 
possessed by a wicked spirit, went with her mother, one day in 1588, to 
visit Sister Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi, her relative. As the three were con 
versing at the grates of the parlor, the Saint was raised into ecstasy; at 
the sight of which the devil began greatly to torment the girl, throwing 
her to the floor, making her throat swell, and causing her to roar and 
bellow, with frightful contortions. This sight moved Magdalen to the 
tenderest compassion towards this unhappy creature. She sent for the 
father confessor, who was then in church, and as soon as he came to the 
parlor, begged of him that he would command that spirit to depart im 
mediately from the girl s body. But the confessor, who trusted more in 
the sanctity of St. Mary Magdalen than in" himself, answered her: "I 
order thee, by holy obedience, that thou thyself command him to do 
this." Then the Saint, with majestic demeanor, full of confidence 
in God, said to the spirit: "I command thee, on the part of God, that 
thou depart from this body;" and made the sign of the cross on the 
girl possessed, who was immediately left free and at rest from all trouble, 
as if she had never suffered it, and never more in her life was she 
molested by that spirit. 

3. BY THE SIGN OF THE CROSS SHE CHANGES SOME SPOILED WINE 

IN A KEG INTO GOOD WINE, DRINKING OK WHICH A SICK NUN RE 

GAINS HER HEALTH. In August of 1588, the wine in a keg in the 
monastery having become sour, and the mother prioress having no means 
to provide good wine, she ordered Sister Mary Magdalen to pray to Jesus 
that He might be pleased to turn the spoiled wine again into good wine. 
Then our Saint, strengthened by obedience, took a little framed picture 
which represented St. Diego, and going with it to the wine-cellar, after 
a short prayer, made the sign of the cross over the keg. After this, the 
sister-butler came to draw wine, and found it, in fact, restored to its 
former good taste. The nuns gave thanks to God, who had so miracu 
lously provided for their needs. A fellow-sister, Mary Angiola Santucci, 
was then confined to her bed by a serious illness, and, on hearing of 
this miracle, asked for a drink of the wine. No sooner had she tasted 
it than she felt a notable relief from her illness, and, feeling her hope 
of ultimate recovery increase, she wanted to taste more of it on the 
following day. After this, she felt better ; and on the third day, taking 
the same small quantity, she recovered her health entirely, to the inex 
pressible wonder of the sisters, who could not help being cognizant 
the double prodigy worked through the virtue of our humble and holy 



. SHE LICKS WITH HER TONGUE THE CONTAGIOUS SORE ON A 
NUN AND HEALS HER For many years, Sister Barbara Bassi, a nun 
in said monastery, had been subject to such a terrible disease that, 
according to the doctor *; verdict, the mass of the blood having become 



98 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

infected, the acid humor gradually gnawed her flesh, and conse 
quently diminished from day to day the efficacy of any medicine. In 
1589, she had come to distrust her health so much that, seeing herself 
covered with sores and scabs, with a perceptible wasting of her body, 
she had given up the use of all remedies, and was not even taking care 
to guard herself in her room, but wandered through the monastery a 
prey to thoughts of sadness and despair. Sister Mary Magdalen, re 
turning one morning after Holy Communion to her cell, met this poor 
sick sister in a very retired place. On account of the great charity with 
which her heart was burning for her neighbor, and the compassion she 
actually felt, she began to lick with her tongue the hands, the arms, and 
the limbs infected with the disease, saying to the sufferer that, if 
she should have faith and trust in God and the Blessed Virgin, she 
would recover. In fact, two or three days afterwards, she unexpectedly 
found herself wholly healed, her flesh being as pure and clean as if she had 
never suffered any illness, and she was never again attacked with such an 
infection. 

5. SHE REANIMATES THE PARALYZED lylMBS OF A LyAY-SlSTER BY 

MAKING THE SIGN OF THE CROSS. In the same year, 1589, Sister 
Pace Colombini, a lay-sister of the same monastery, being struck with 
apoplexy and having lost the feeling in her left side to such an extent that 
she did not feel the least pain from a long pin s being thrust in by the 
physicians. Mary Magdalen finding herself one day in the room of this 
sick sister, the mother prioress asked her to pray for her and bless her. 
Our Saint, on account of her humility, refused to do this for a while ; 
but, conquered by obedience and charity, she made the sign of the cross 
over the sick nun, who immediately felt that some life was returning to 
the dead side. Being animated to hope well from her great benefactress, 
she begged her, with the greatest fervor, that she would continue to pray 
for her and visit her. On the. following day, Magdalen was anxious to 
comply with the patient s wish, and visited her, and again made the sign 
of the cross over her. The paralytic felt likewise a new vigor in her 
limbs, so that she began to move them a little. On the third day, re 
peating the visit and the blessing, our Saint accomplished the prodigy 
of a perfect cure, so that Sister Pace Colombini said with a firm voice : 
"I am healed." Shortly after, she got out of her bed to the great 
amazement of all the nuns, and much more of the doctor, who, having 
been unable to see, according to his science, any hope of recovery from 
such an illness, could not assign a human reason for seeing her well and 
occupied, like any other lay-sister, in the housework of the monastery. 
This lay-sister was never more overtaken by this illness as they gener 
ally are who have once had a stroke. 

Thus did God at once humble and exalt this, His handmaid, who, 
bv her sanctity, confounded the rebellious and proud Lucifer; condemned 
the world in its false glories, its ridiculous pomps, and its vices ; con 
demned also her fellow-sisters of the monastery in their unjust doubts; 
and glorified more and more the holy Name of God, furnishing in herself 
a new proof of the truth of that evangelical principle, that " triumph 
belongs to him who is the most sincere," in opposition to the political 
sophism that " the right belongs to him who is the shrewdest." 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



99 





CHAPTER XVIIL 

BEFORE THE END OF THE FIVE YEARS PROBATION, SHE PERFORMS 

A MOST SEVERE PENANCE OF FIFTY DAYS, AFTER WHICH 

GOD REWARDS HER WITH SEVERAL FAVORS. 

JHB end of the five years ordained by God for the probation 
of the Saint was drawing near, when, on Easter Sunday, 
the 22d of April, 1590, being raised out of her senses, she 
understood it to be the will of God that she should under 
take a new Lent of rigid penance, to last until the next 
Pentecost, when the combat would cease. This penance 
she was to perform in atonement for all the faults she 
had committed during those five years, assigning ten days 
for each year. Hence, most faithful to the divine inspirations, with 
His permission, she fasted all the fifty days on bread and water, slept 
on the bare floor, except Sundays, when she would rest a little while on 
the ordinary straw-bed. Besides many mortifications, spiritual exer 
cises, and other penances which she ordinarily practiced, not a day of 
these fifty passed without her cruelly scourging her flesh with an iron 
discipline, keeping before her a human skull, a cross, and a clepsydra 
indicating the half-hour, which she would very often overstep, and some 
times even double in scourging herself. 

Having reached through such austerity the 9th of June, the eve of 
Pentecost, and feeling in the morning unusually afflicted from an 
unknown cause, she withdrew to a place apart and used the discipline 
on herself for the space of almost an hour ; then she went to the oratory 
of the novices, where, praying before the image of our Lady, she had an 
ecstasy of nearly two hours. The superioress, in order to get a new 
proof of her obedience, called her during that time, ordering her to 
present herself to her. At the voice of the mother, quickly returning 
to her senses, with deep humility she knelt at her feet, and, in obedience, 
related all she had understood during this ecstasy. It was that the Lord 
was pleased that in future she should go barefooted no more, as she had 
been doing for three years, but should put on her sandals, though not 
her stockings ; that on the following three feast-days of the Holy Ghost 
she should conform herself to the life of the community, eating meat and 
whatever else the monastery allowed ; and this, every year on this solem 
nity, as a joyous remembrance that on this feast her painful probation 



100 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

had ended by God s taking her victorious out of the den of infernal lions. 
As the Jews yearly celebrated the remembrance of their having been 
freed from Pharaoh s slavery, so she was to do likewise at Pentecost, 
giving also to the body, as a companion in these sufferings, some lawful 
comfort. From that hour forward, she was also permitted to drink some 
wine every Thursday evening in memory of the most sacred Eucharist. 
Likewise, having desired and often asked our Lord not to grant her 
so manifest and frequent supernatural favors, that she might not ap 
pear to be an object of admiration and singularity, she understood in 
this ecstasy, that in future she would be less favored exteriorly with 
them than she had been before her probation. At the same time, her 
soul would be even more strongly united to God, in such a manner 
though, as not to prevent her from working and conversing, except 
on the three days of Pentecost, when God wanted her all to Himself. On 
the first day, that she might rejoice and feast in God alone for the 
victories obtained over the devils during the five years past ; on the other 
two days, that she might hear what the Divine Will demanded of her 
for the future. Here her interview with the mother prioress ended. 

When the evening came, she quickly hid herself in her little room, 
where, instead of taking rest, she passed the night in prayer till the sign 
of matin, at which, going to the choir, she recited there the divine office 
with the other sisters, till the Te Deum. This being commenced, she 
was rapt in ecstasy, and the Lord, by means of St. Angel o the Carmelite, 
revealed to her that He would keep her in the state of grace and 
strengthen the powers of her soul and the senses of her body, so that she 
might use them only in honor of God and in the service of her neighbor. 
She then saw in her imagination, and even somewhat sensibly, that 
the above Saint first anointed her eyes, and then her ears, mouth, hands, 
and feet, and afterwards purified and strengthened her soul with the blood 
of Jesus, for which she said: " Lavit animam meam in sartguine Sponsi 
met." From this vision she drew great strength and much knowledge. 
God granted her particularly this most remarkable grace for which she 
so ardently wished that in future she would consider every person as 
just and holy; and never would she judge them otherwise, no matter 
what fault she might perceive in them. If the sin were so manifest as 
to admit of no doubt, she would have the grace of excusing the intention ; 
and if the very intention appeared evidently bad, she would blame the 
violence of the malign tempter for it, whose snares no mortal can wholly 
escape. " If anyone," she said during the sair.e rapture, " shall come to 
tell me of any fault of my neighbor, I, my Lord, will not listen, but will 
tell her decidedly that she should pray for her neighbor and myself, that I 
may correct myself first ; and of the faulty deeds witnessed by me, rather 
than speak to others, I will advise the delinquent herself; as, otherwise, 
instead of remedying the faults, many more are committed, and some 
times greater ones than those of which we speak." Her spirit of charity 
made her earnestly express the desire for the salvation of all souls, includ 
ing those of heretics and infidels, and that all creatures would love one 
another. Having thus entered the ecstasy at the hour when she was 
wont yearly to receive the Holy Ghost, she began with loving and 
entreating expressions to invoke the same Divine Spirit; and then, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. IOI 

remaining for a while in silence, her face became at once wonderfully 
beautiful, her eyes shone with the most fervid joy, and, with a voice of 
contentment, she repeatedly exclaimed: "Behold, He comes down!" 
Showing that the Divine Spirit, in then visiting her soul, delivered her 
from the stormy lake of infernal peril, and gave her back the feeling 
of grace, communicating to her, as an ample reward, His celestial ardon 
In the excess of her joy, she uttered some passages of Holy Writ, as : 
" Eripuit me de manibus inimicorum meorum, et ipsi confiisi sunt " 
u He delivered me from the hand of my enemies (Ps. xvii, 18) . . . 
and "they have been confounded" (Ps. lii, 6). "Transivi per ignem 
et aquam, et eduxisti me in refrigerium " u I have passed through fire 
and water, and Thou hast brought me out into a refreshment" (Ps. Ixv, 12). 
She then saw the devils holding records of the faults into which 
she had fallen during these five years, and she said : ( These most 
ferocious beasts hold in their hands old papers, thinking to return with 
them to their chief devil to tell him of some great gain ; but my patron 
Saints take and tear them, as everything is purified by the blood of my 
Jesus. They are more grievously tormented by what they had thought 
would be a conquest, but they return without any victory. Who will 
understand, O my Lord, that what I thought to be an offense is not an 
offense, but a joy and glory to my soul ? Only he who experiences it. 
But now an idle word will be for me a more serious thing than what 
before seemed to me a grievous offense against God, because I enjoy 
more liberty and can say : * Servite Domino in timore, et exultate ei cum 
tremor e * Serve ye the Lord with fear : and rejoice unto Him with 
trembling " (Ps. ii, n). Here, turning to the mother prioress and to 
her mistress, and joining and pressing with her own the hands of both, 
she told them, with a feeling of real gladness : u It came and 
has passed away (that is, the time of probation) : help me, therefore, 
to thank and magnify my God." After this she recovered from 
her rapture, and, having partaken of the Eucharistic Bread and 
heard the Holy Mass, went through some community acts with the 
sisters, and then took her repast. When just out of the refectory, 
she was again alienated from her senses, and saw in spirit a great light, 
in the midst of which were her fourteen patron Saints, who, being 
divided into seven pairs, were in a wonderful manner making a glorious 
procession. She named them in the following order: St. Thomas 
Aquinas and St. Agnes ; St. John the Evangelist and St. Mary Magda 
len the Penitent; St. John the Baptist and St. Catherine, Virgin and 
Martyr; St. Stephen and St. Catherine of Siena; St. Francis and St. 
Clara; St. Augustine and St. Angelo the Carmelite; St. Michael 
Archangel and her own Guardian Angel ; who were all going to the 
Eternal Father, and were drawing precious gifts from His bosom, and 
coming back with them, in behalf of Jesus, to adorn her and reward 
her for the pains she had endured during the five years of her probation. 
But as she always, and especially during that time, had lived m great 
fear of having in many things offended God, moved at once by surprise 
and joy, she said: " O my God ! it looks as if Thou wouldst reward me 
in some way for the offenses I have offered Thee, as it seems to me that 
I have done nothing else but offend Thee ; but yes, yes: Thou knowest 



102 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

everything. " In the meantime, as she related, those Saints, approaching, 
adorned her with those rich gifts drawn from the bosom of the Eternal 
Father. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Agnes placed on her head a beau 
tiful crown, on which was written: Tu videbis ("Thou shalt see"), on 
the right; and Jugum meum super te est (" My yoke is upon thee"), on 
the left, which yoke meant the satisfaction of the Word in all His brides. 
In receiving this crown, she made an outward motion, as if she had fixed 
a garland on her head, and pronounced these words: u The crown you 
now give me will not prevent me from wearing that of thorns (given to 
her by the Lord five years previously); nay, I hope, it will be a greater 
ornament to the same." Then St. John the Evangelist and St. Mary 
Magdalen the Penitent gave her a necklace, on which was written: Tu 
videbis, on the right; Verita, Mansuetudine (" Truth and meekness"), 
on the left. St. John the Baptist and St. Catherine, Virgin and Martyr, 
clothed her with a pure white habit, which on the breast bore the face of 
Jesus wonderfully painted, on the right a pomegranate, on the left a lily 
with three little bells. St. Stephen and St. Catherine of Siena adorned 
her with bracelets on which three eyes were engraved, which signified 
the Providence, the Mercy, and the Love of God. St. Francis and St. 
Clara put on the little finger of her left hand a ring formed of a four- faced 
diamond; on one face was written: La salute (" The salvation"); on 
the second Annichilazione (" Annihilation ") ; on the third Individua ed 
intrinseca caritd, ("Individual and intrinsic charity"); on the fourth 
Poverth (" Poverty "). St. Augustine and St. Angelo surrounded her 
with a fulgid whiteness, which, covering all, occupied no space; and the 
top of it represented the Crucifix. Finally, the Archangel St. Michael 
and her Guardian Angel gave her a sword. Whilst she was contemplat 
ing with indescribable admiration the superhuman beauty of these, her 
patron Saints, and delighting in seeing herself so favored by them, trans 
ported by an excess of joy, she began to dance w r ith the greatest agility 
coupled with equal modesty ; and it seemed to her that the Saints at the 
same time were celebrating with celestial melody, in union with her, the 
victories that the Lord had granted her. Having somewhat subdued 
this great exultation, standing still, and with a firm voice, she said: <l I 
wish to go to all those places where my adversary tried to harm me, in 
order to confound him and all his duplicities." In fact, being still 
ecstatic, she went through all those parts of the monastery where she 
had been attacked by the devil, and stopping particularly at one place 
where the fight had been more obstinate, dancing and singing, she began 
to mock the enemy, saying these words : " In spite of thee, I will keep 
the feast on the day of my Lord ; I will laugh at thee before Him, and 
will throw myself at His feet." Having knelt there for a moment, she 
rose to her feet, continuing in a tone of sweet song : " In all that hap 
pened to me, O devils, before my God, to your torment, I will glory, and 
I will make of it a crown to put on my head, and before Him I will 
humble myself." Again throwing herself on her knees, in an act of 
adoration, soon afterward she arose, and continued: " O horrible, infernal 
beasts ! Brawl and roar as much as you like ; my soul will think no 
more of you than of a butterfly, but will thank my God for this great 
gift." In another place, which was also remarkable for the vexations 




She receives the Holy Infant into her arms from the hands of the 
Blessed Virgin (page 86). 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 103 

wliicli Satan made her endure, she sang the words of St. Paul : Quis nos 
separabit a charitate Chris ti? tribulatio, au angustia, au fames?" 
" Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or 
distress? or famine?" (Rom. viii, 35). " Nemo poterit me separare a 
charitate Christi" " No creature shall be able to separate me from the 
charity of Christ" (Ibid., 39). Omnia arbitratus sum ut stercora, ut 
Christum lucrifaciam " " I have counted all things but as dung, that I 
may gain Christ (Philip, iii, 8). Then strengthening her confidence, 
she said with the holy prophet: "Dominus illuminatio mea et salus mea, 
quern timebo?" u The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I 
fear ? " Finally, going to the choir, before the altar of the Blessed Virgin, 
she offered herself to her, with these expressions : " O most pure Mary, I 
offer and give myself to thee, not only with the purity and innocence I 
received when I consecrated myself to thee, but with that innocence more 
adorned and purified. Receive me, then, O Mary, and keep me in thy 
care." After this offering she came to herself from her ecstasy, which was 
so extraordinary and delightful, and had been witnessed by nearly all the 
nuns, who ran to share in the joy of their wonderful sister, then so tri 
umphantly freed from diabolical vexations which had been so lasting and 
frightful. They could not, from the feeling of affection, of complaisance, 
and, I will add, from their own mortification, restrain their tears at the 
sight of this angelic soul, sending forth from her countenance, and 
especially her eyes, the most ardent sparks of paradise. Having then 
returned to herself, she and the nuns reciprocally proffered acts of benevo 
lence, forgiveness, and esteem, and all most gladly returned to God sin 
cere praises and thanksgiving. 

On the following morning, the second feast of the Holy Ghost, 
after Holy Communion, the Mass being nearly over, God sensibly called 
Mary Magdalen, who, answered thrice " Ecce adsum " and was again 
absorbed in ecstasy, in which she understood how, in future, as a reward 
for enduring the horrible sight of the devils for the five years past, 
she would have always before the eyes of her mind the presence of His 
Divine Majesty. Jesus appearing to her, she was immediately filled 
with unutterable joy ; and, looking steadily at Him, began to say : O my 
Spouse (as I must so call Thee), the sight of the devil is very 
horrible but Thine is incomparably more delightful, for Thou art, as 
the prophet said : " Speciosus forma prcz filiis hominum." And as in 
the past there was no time or place in which I had not to suffer the 
frightful sight of those malign spirits, so now, walking, standing, work 
ing, and talking, I shall always see Thee, O my Beloved. As they besides 
showed themselves to my mental view, and sometimes also appeared 
under various forms to my corporal eyes, so Thou also wilt be present 
not only to my mind, but also to the eyes of my body to make me 
rejoice and exult the more." And Jesus asking her, then, in what 
form she preferred to see Him, she added : "As Thou art one God m 
three Persons, therefore I will be well pleased to see Thee m three 
forms, viz., as Thou wast when Thou didst dwell m Egypt, that is, m 
Thy Infancy ; then as Thou wast when Thy Mother lost Thee in the 
temple ; finally, as in the days of Thy Passion." No sooner had she said 
these words than her wish was gratified. The Divine Redeemer showed 



104 THE LIKE AND WORKS OF 

Himself to her, first, as Pie was in His Infancy ; and she, all joyous, thus 
expressed to Him the loving sentiments of her heart: u Oh ! behold my 
little Infant just at the age of three or four years ; oh ! how beautiful 
Thou art ! Thy beautiful eyes, so cheerful and smiling, and at the 
same time so thoughtful and grave : Thy head encircled by a garland of 
flowers, the fragrance of which draws one to embrace Thee ; Thy 
tender hands adorned with three most beautiful rings. Oh! what a 
wonderful thing ! Thou art little, and yet art God ; but thy littleness 
makes me know Thy greatness. O greatness and littleness of my God ! 
I could never satiate myself looking at Thee. O little and great God, 
so beautiful and attractive ! I fear that Thy beautiful aspect may make 
me rejoice so that I may show it exteriorly also." Shortly after, seeing 
Jesus as in His youth, she continued thus : " Oh ! behold my Spouse, 
who shows Himself to me just at the age of twelve, when He was confound 
ing the doctors in the temple. What an admirable countenance ! how a 
meek gravity shines in it ! His eyes are not turned to the earth, nor to 
heaven, but He is all recollected within Himself, to teach His bride that 
she must not look to the earth, as she must have already overcome all 
the things therein to be found ; and that she must not look to heaven 
neither, in order not to forget her co-operation on behalf of creatures ; but, 
looking at herself, she must acknowledge the vileness of the body and 
despise it; the greatness and dignity of souls, and procure, with all 
her might, their salvation and perfection. This gentle Youth has, in 
His right hand, a book, not suitable for a tyro, but for the learned and 
wise, in which He wants me to study in recompense for the time of my 
affliction and darkness. In His left hand He has a harp, with which to 
accompany the hymns of love. Oh ! what a sweet melody ! Oh ! how good 
the Lord is to the souls who seek Him alone ! " Having become silent 
for a while, she then went to kneel before the altar of the Blessed Virgin ; 
and, it being already the hour when she usually received the Holy Ghost, 
she begged of the Divine Spirit to communicate Himself to her as well 
as to all the Religious of her monastery. She did not have to pray 
long, for a short while after she saw how the Spirit was received by the 
many under the form of a common ray, and by herself under that of a 
loving dart, which made her feel a new ardor of heavenly flame. In 
the meantime she came to herself from her rapture ; and, having restored 
her body with some food, was again alienated from her senses and then 
she saw Jesus in the third manner in which she wished to see Him. Look 
ing at Him in that immovable attitude which is characteristic of one who is 
struck with the highest amazement, she said to Him: U O my Jesus, in Thy 
full manhood shall I see Thee, when I am working, when praising Thee, 
and when toiling in all places but in those in which I have to regard Thee 
as an infant and as a youth. I will see Thee in that beautiful and graceful 
age, in which Thou didst leave Thyself as food and suffered the most 
cruel passion. I will delight very much in regarding Thee as Thou 
didst show Thyself to me now, sitting at the fountain (the Well of 
Samaria), asking questions and enlightening the people. Yes, O my 
God,^ at the fountain, because I must give glory to Thee alone, the 
unfailing Fountain of all good. < Non nobis, Domine, non nobis^ 
Not to us, O Lord, not to us (Ps. cxiii, i). I might go through many 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. IO5 

places mentally, as Thou didst do so much during that time ; but I 
prefer to stop with Thee at the fountain, and sometimes I will also 
anoint Thee as Magdalen did. Charity to my neighbor shall be the 
ointment. The tears with which I shall wash Thy holy feet will be 
that charity described by St. Paul, which consists in weeping with those 
who weep, and rejoicing with those who rejoice. The hair, which is 
regarded as an almost superfluous thing, will be represented by the con 
descension that a soul, thinking highly of Thee, must use in adapting 
herself to the frailty and littleness of her neighbors. And still, looking 
on Thee at the fountain, I see Thou hast a cross at Thy right to show 
that though the intense suffering of my soul, known to Thee, is ended, 
neverthless another cross will be left to me, which consists in seeing that 
Thou art neither loved nor understood, and that Thy will is not exe 
cuted. Thou hast written in Thy hands all the words (she meant the 
works) ; and how can this be that Thou takest words for works ? 
Ah ! yes, I understand ; because Thou rewardest more a fervent desire 
of doing a work when one cannot do it, than the work itself when done 
without the desire; and if Thy work is not accomplished, it is not 
because there will not be Thy will, but because there is no disposition 
in creatures, and there are no generous hearts to make such beginning 
as would be necessary." After a brief silence, returning to the under 
standing of what the L,ord required of her, according to the order of the 
life of the Incarnate Word, and having begun at the morning of His 
infancy and gone through all His life, it was noticed that she entered 
the passion, Jesus showing to her, under various forms, what He wanted 
her to accomplish in herself; hence she spoke thus: "When I shall be 
tired of my labors, I will have medicine and food with which to nourish 
myself; and it will be a chalice of blood, which is the passion of my Word. 
If Thou wert only a martyr, O my God, I would deem suitable to Thee 
what I now see on Thy breast; but Thou art even the head of the 
martyrs, and Thou dost this for my instruction. My Spouse has a palm 
on His breast of which the leaves and centre are somewhat black, but 
the extremity is green to teach me that the beginning and root of all 
my works must be to do them according to God s will ; and they must 
be done also with some fear, which is signified by the black around the 
leaver, ; but it must be a filial fear. The black in the centre indicates 
that, according to my ability, I must see not only that my works are 
according to God s will, but conformable to the just who live on earth, 
as the will of all just travelers can only be but one with God s. The 
extremity is all green, because these works must be performed with confi 
dence. I see my God with His head not covered with blood, but rather, 
as the prophet said, Sicut unguentum in capite, quod descendit in bar- 
bam, barbam Aaron Like the precious ointment on the head, that 
ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron. (Ps. cxxxii, 2). Every 
hair has its drop, which does not wait for the other ; and as soon as the 
first one drops, it provokes the second, and this the third, and the third 
the next : so great is the abundance of dew on His head. The drops are 
nothing but the knowledge and intelligence which God imparts to the 
soul, and out of which one draws the other, as by accepting one and 
making it bring forth fruit, God is induced to give more, and, continu- 



106 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

ing in the faithful correspondence, one obtains the whole perfection. 
The head of my God is also like a small cloud, which draws to itself 
the water already fallen, to again moisten the earth with it ; He 
gathers the fruit and the work which the soul has done with the intel 
ligence communicated to her, to re-infuse into the same new gifts and 
new graces. I do not know, my L,ord, whether to-day Thou wilt show 
me all the things Thou hast created. He has two tongues on His 
sacred shoulders ; one of which is the praise of God, the other one is 
charity ; and both speak out at one time. Here I must pay attention 
and see which one speaks louder, and listen to that, but so as not 
to prevent my hearing the other. If I occupy myself in some practice 
of chanty, or of Religion, I must be, in desire, praising Thee, and never 
leave Thy praise to attend to myself; but if I am praising Thee, I must 
not be, except by loving affection, helping my neighbor. I must fore 
see well whether I can practice charity before or after praising Thee. 
But if I see that by delaying some practice of charity, or of Religion, 
I may cause scandal and trouble to my neighbor, I must rather delay 
the praise of God than become a stumbling-block to the salvation of 
the souls of others. Thus shall I hear both voices without preventing 
the hearing of the one through hearing the other. Thy Word holds in 
His left hand a little bell, by which He wants me to understand that I 
must invite His brides to the perfection to which they are called : He 
wants this little bell to give a penetrating sound, but without noise, 
because I must admonish and speak with sweetness and meekness, and 
never with severity of expression or manner, as a sweet and meek 
speech does better than a harsh and severe one. He holds this little 
bell in the left hand, as that is the side where the heart is, to show me 
that the words I speak must proceed from the heart, that is, from a 
heartfelt love of God and my neighbor, and that I must say nothing 
except what I myself have first practiced. In His right hand my Spouse 
holds a dial ; and yet Thou art God ! but for me Thou boldest this time 
keeper with two faces ; on one side is the sun, on the other the moon. The 
timekeeper denotes to me that I must measure time so that reward and 
salvation may not have to be measured to me ; for to him who measures 
not the time, the reward is measured, that is, he will not be given much 
of it : a small thing is easily measured. The moon engraved on one 
side shows me the changeableness of earthly and transitory things, 
which we should esteem as such. The sun engraved on the other side 
represents to me the constant and entire perfection of celestial things, 
and of God, for whom and in whom I must give every thought, desire, 
and affection. In the same hand He holds a scale, to teach me that 
I must do everything thoughtfully, or with prudence ; and He also holds 
with both hands a very rich sceptre, entirely of gold and adorned with 
most precious stones. What else is this sceptre, O soul, but the honor 
and glory due to God in all things? The stones set in it signify 
taking delight in all that God delights in. He delights in the creature, 
in His power, goodness, mercy, and all His other divine perfections ; 
and the soul must do likewise. He holds this sceptre with both hands, 
as the glory to be given Him must proceed from the love of God and our 
neighbor. This God of mine has under His feet a crown that looks 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 1 07 

golden, but is not ; under the crown are some lilies, under these the 
devils. The crown is nothing but the glory and the honors of the world; 
the lilies are the sensual pleasures, which, together with the devil and 
the wicked flesh, must be kept under foot and trampled on. My Jesus, 
I understand not why Thou appearest to shut Thy eyes, unless Thou 
enlighten me in regard to it. By that He wants to teach the Bride-soul 
that she must shut her eyes and almost fall asleep, in order not 
to feel the temptations of her passions, which are within, and 
which are like little children who, when they want anything, make 
so much ado, with tears, or sweet smiles, or otherwise, until they 
get it. Our passions often overcome us, either by fear, or by love, or by 
other innumerable emotions ; but the soul must be asleep to them and 
shut every opening of sensibility against them, raising herself above 
them and approaching God. And, after having done these things and 
many more, she must call and intimately believe herself an unworthy 
servant, and unable to do any good action. Finally, my God gives 
me three most worthy queens, with their suites, for if they were 
unaccompanied their dignity and greatness would not be known. He 
wants me always to follow in their footsteps, that I may not lose the 
road which leads me to Him, my Beloved. These are three most worthy 
virtues, in which I must always exercise myself; that is, charity, mercy 
and purity, or truth and righteousness, as I may call it, together with 
the suite of holy humility, as the virtues which are not accompanied by 
humility cannot be truly called virtues, and are of no value before God 
or for the soul." 

Here she became silent for a good length of time ; and then, recom 
mending all creatures to God, came to herself from her ecstasy, in which 
she had been about twenty-one hours. With such bountiful reward of 
celestial graces and superhuman knowledge did God immediately re ward 
the sufferings of five years, endured with such an heroic constancy and 
generosity by the noble and holy Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi. 

Let us here remark, once for all : She spoke Latin, quoted and 
applied the texts of the Holy Scriptures with as much skill as if she 
were a profound theologian. We have had, so far, some proofs of it, 
and shall have more in abundance as we proceed to relate her achieve 
ments. Behold, therefore, a new argument to prove that her spirit was 
of God ; for, uninstructed by human means in this language, and much 
less instructed in the knowledge of biblical texts, she could not use the 
former and quote the latter so easily and adroitly, unless by the help of 
Him who, animating the clay by His simple breath, and forming of it as 
great a number of vessels as there are individuals in all human-kind, 
sometimes infuses His wisdom into the weakest of them, that the strong, 
not to himself, but to the Divine Source alone, may return the honor 
and the glory of every good thing. 



108 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 





CHAPTER XIX. 

GOD REVEALS TO HER THE STATE OF VARIOUS SOULS DEPARTED 
FOR THE OTHER LIFE. 



JHEN any nun of her monastery shut her eyes to time, 
to open them in eternity, she recommended her to God 
with prayers so pressing, that often, being rapt in ecstasy, 
God favored her by showing her the state of that soul. 
This also happened in regard to the souls of some per 
sons unknown to her, for whom she was praying to God 
at another s request. She knew so well their state, that, 
comparing her manifestation with what these persons had 
done during life, there was no doubt left of her being inspired of God. 

1. SHE FORESEES THE DELIVERANCE OF HER BROTHER S SOUL 
FROM PURGATORY. The first soul known by her while in this life, 
to be in purgatory, was her brother s, as we related in Chapter XV. 
Through her most fervent prayers, her brother soon obtained deliverance 
from that painful prison, and she learned the kno wledge of their efficacy, 
so that, turning her mind to him, she then pronounced these words : 
" Happy thou, O beloved brother, as thou wilt soon be called to eternal 
bliss, and, though great and unutterable are the pains, still they are not 
equal to the future inexpressible and incomprehensible glory prepared 
for thee in heaven." 

2. SHE SEES THE SOUL OF A NUN OF HER MONASTERY, WHO, 
AFTER SIXTEEN DAYS IN PURGATORY, ASCENDS GLORIOUSLY TO 
HEAVEN. On the 3d of February, 1588, whilst alienated from her 
senses, it was given her to see the soul of a sister of her monastery, who, 
sixteen days after she had passed out of this life, was going gloriously 
into heaven ; and she understood that for three particular reasons she 
had been detained during that time in the pains of purgatory : First, 
because on festival-days (as she was very skillful in handiwork) she had 
done something not altogether necessary ; secondly, because, as a 
senior mother of that religious family, she failed once, through human 
respect, to notify the superiors of something which she felt she ought 
to make known for the welfare of the monastery ; thirdly, because she 
was too much attached to her relatives. Those who preside over a 
family, either religious or lay, private or public, should not fail to apply 
to themselves the second case, whence it appears that they must receive 
with affability, gratitude, and efficacious determination any judicious 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. IOQ 

person who may reach their hearts by the voice of truth ; but they are 
often unable to hear this voice, because their sensual appetites are too 
well fed, they are too puffed up by vainglorious complacency and too much 
deceived by false adulation. It is the will of God that the great man 
should sometimes be advised and guided by the inferior, so that, through 
the elevation of one and the lowering of the other, the human parity estab 
lished by the eternal law may remain unalterable. Immediately were 
revealed to our Saint the three virtues of the same soul, by which she 
understood that the sufferings of purgatory were shortened for her: 
The first was the solicitous care with which she always had en 
deavored to preserve the purity and simplicity of her Religion ; 
the second, the great charity which she practiced for all the sisters 
during life ; the third, having always taken in good part all she 
saw or heard. Therefore our Saint saw, afterwards, that this happy 
soul, purified from all stains, and rich in merits, was going to enjoy the 
Sovereign Good, accompanied by her Guardian Angel and St. Miniato, 
Martyr, who, according to the custom of the monastery, had been 
appointed her protector for that year. At such a sight Magdalen was 
filled with joy, and felt an ardent desire to follow that soul, in order to 
hasten to the full enjoyment of her beloved Spouse, Jesus. 

3. SHE SEES THE SOUL OF ANOTHER NUN OF HER MONASTERY, WHO 
HAD BEEN BUT FIFTEEN HOURS IN PURGATORY, GOING TO HEAVEN. 

On the 5th of June of the year 1589, a nun died, in whose behalf St. 
Mary Magdalen had performed very many charitable acts during her 
last illness. As they were about to bury the body, Magdalen was look 
ing at it from a church blind, and while doing so she was rapt in 
ecstasy, and saw the soul of her fellow-sister ascending to heaven ; hence 
she said : " Farewell, sister ; adieu, blessed soul ; thou goest to paradise, 
like a pure dove, leaving us all here below. Oh ! how glorious and 
beautiful thou art ! And who could recount thy. beauty ? How short a 
time thou hast remained in the flames! Thy body ^is not yet buried, 
and thy soul flies to the glory of the blessed. Now thou dost fully un 
derstand what I was telling thee while yet on earth, viz., that it will 
seem to thee as if thou hadst not suffered anything, when thy sufferings 
are compared to the glory that Jesus hath prepared for thee in paradise." 
She also understood then that that sister had remained but fifteen hours 
in purgatory, because she had borne with great patience all the troubles 
she encountered during life, and especially the very great pains of her 
last illness. As soon as the body disappeared from the view of those 
present, Magdalen returned to her senses, saying : " At the same time 
that they give burial to the body, the soul is placed forever in heaven." 

4. SHE SEES THE SOUL OF A NUN OF HER MONASTERY SUR 
ROUNDED BY FLAMES, ADORING THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND SHE 
UNDERSTANDS THE REASON FOR IT. Another day of the same year, 
1589, whilst she was in the choir praying, the soul of a deceased nun 
of her monastery appeared to her, covered with flames, as if with a 
mantle, under which a white habit was apparent ; and in that condi 
tion that soul adored the Kucharistic Sacrament in deep reverence. 
Magdalen, asking of God the meaning of this, understood how the 
white habit had been given that sister for having preserved her virginity 



110 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

inviolate until death ; the mantle of fire which covered her had been 
given to her in punishment for some faults ; and she was ordered to stay 
before the Blessed Sacrament covered with that mantle, in punishment 
for having several times during life omitted Holy Communion ; and that, 
just for this neglect, she had to stay every day for one hour in such 
adoration till she had wholly atoned for the fault, after which she 
would fly up to heaven. Accordingly this soul was seen by our Saint, 
not long after, going to the bliss of eternal rest. 

5. SHE SEES IN PURGATORY THE SOUL OF HER MOTHER LOOK 
ING VERY CHEERFUL, AS SHE WAS SOON TO GO AND ENJOY THE ETER 
NAL GLORY ; AND IN THIS VISION MANY THINGS ARE MADE KNOWN TO 
HER. In Advent of the year 1590, Maria Buondelmonti De-Pazzi, the 
happy mother of Magdalen, paying to the Author of nature the common 
tribute, ended her life of edification, of love, of zeal, and of sorrows. 
When the sad news reached Magdalen, she said she knew it already, as, 
when her mother breathed her last, she felt an unusual pain in her heart 
and a strong inclination to kneel and say a Requiem ceternam for her 
mother s soul. This she did not do, however, as she was in the presence 
of many nuns. With all the love with which the filial sentiment 
inspired her, she quickly withdrew to give vent to her wishes and sup 
plications for the salvation of this soul, rather than to lamentations 
and tears for the loss of the body. In the meantime, reciting the 
Miserere, she was rapt in ecstasy, and then saw in purgatory the soul of 
her mother, very cheerful and contented, as though little children were 
removing the flames from around her, and the tears of the poor who 
were weeping over her death gave her great relief in those pains. The 
little children, she understood, were those whom, during life, she had 
taught and led in the way of the Lord, as she had so wisely done by 
word and example ; the tears were those of indigent persons* to whom 
she was wont to distribute help in the true spirit of charity. Here, her 
mother disappearing, her Guardian Angel presented himself to her mind, 
and from him she understood many things concerning the indescribable 
glory of paradise prepared for the merits of this soul, particularly because 
of her works of charity, not so much exterior as interior, on behalf of her 
neighbors; and that she would shortly pass to enjoy that glory. Mag 
dalen said to the angel that she wished to possess three things with which 
her mother was endowed : her great righteousness, her prudence, and 
her tolerance and resignation, by which she preserved her equanimity, 
both in prosperous and in adverse circumstances. After these petitions, 
she came to herself from her rapture, and then continued to pray daily 
for the hasty deliverance of her dearly beloved mother. On the eve of 
the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, it being just fifteen days since her 
mother had departed this life, she understood, in a new ecstasy, how her 
soul on ^ the morning of that same day, at the hour corresponding 
to that in which it had left her body, had flown up to heaven ; and 
she saw it, all joyful, glancing at the side of the Word, and there it 
stopped, as at the time of death it possessed God in the act of charity. 
She had already seen how her patron Saints had carried her soul 
into heaven like an eagle, how St. Catherine adorned it with a habit 
of blood, St. Agnes with various flowers, and St. John the Baptist 




The Blessed Virgin puts a spotless white veil on her (page 89). 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. Ill 

placed on her head a crown, at which she, greatly wondering, being still 
in her rapture, uttered these words: " How and why is the halo placed 
011 thy head since thou hast not been a virgin, nor hast thou been num 
bered among those who had the desire of virginity, as thou hast been 
satisfied with the state and vocation in which God placed thee?" . . 
She then understood that her mother had merited that crown for her 
great suffering, especially interior, on account of some sad causes, which 
so often exist in the case of those who are obliged to live in contact with 
society. She also saw how the Blessed Virgin embellished that soul in 
different ways, because, while in this world, she held her name in great 
reverence and devotion, to her own great advantage and profit. Having 
then remained for a while to look at the position of her mother, she re 
ceived from her the three following counsels: First, that she should 
seek the highest possible degree of humility ; secondly, that she should 
practice obedience with exactitude ; thirdly, that in all things she 
should use prudence. Thus ended the ecstatic vision regarding the soul 
of her mother. Some days after, in another ecstasy, God showed her 
in heaven, rich in glory, the soul of a priest she had known, and who, 
during his lifetime, had done much for his own perfection and for the 
eternal salvation of others. 

6. SHE SEES THE SOULS OF TWO PERSONS KNOWN TO HER CON 
DEMNED TO ETERNAL TORMENTS. In the year 1594, on the 22d 
of December, her spirit being raised above her senses, she saw the 
soul of an unhappy man at the moment that he passed from his death 
bed to the eternal torments. God revealed to her that the chief cause of 
his damnation was his having held in contempt the treasures of Holy 
Church, laughing at the indulgences and all the other graces the Church 
benignly imparts to her faithful children ; which contempt indicates the 
depth of iniquity into which a wretched man may fall. Again, after a 
few days, having reentered an ecstasy, she saw the soul of another man 
surrounded by infernal flames, to which Divine Justice had condemned 
him. At such a sight Magdalen grew pale and became -so frightened 
that she nearly fainted ; and, in a piteous voice, she began to say to 
him : " Unhappy man ! Thou hast become a firebrand of hell; soon thy 
pastimes were changed into horrible and everlasting pains.". And, gaz 
ing up to heaven, she continued : "O Eternal God! the people of the 
world do not meditate well on these things." By which words, and the 
manner of her uttering them, she inspired those present with great fear, 
and she was left so depressed by the awfulness of the vision, that for 
several days she was unable to find a thought that would restore her to 
tranquillity. She made known afterwards, by customary obedience, that 
God had granted her these two visions that she and her companions, the 
nuns of her monastery, might be more inflamed with zeal for the salva 
tion of souls, and try to appease Divine Justice by their prayers and 
penances. 

7. SHE SEES THE SOUL3 OF MANY RELIGIOUS DAMNED FOR NOT 
OBSERVING THE VOW OF POVERTY, AND FOR OTHER SlNS. One Sun 
day, while they were singing vespers in the choir, she was rapt in ecstasy, 
and the Lord showed her a great number of souls falling down, like 



112 THE LIKE AND WORKS OK 

lightning, into hell ; and having asked of God who they might be, she 
was told that they were the souls of Religious who, having lived in 
monasteries of lax observance, by transgressing their vows, and par 
ticularly that of poverty, had been sentenced to eternal torments. This 
had been done also because they had used the sacred habit to feed their 
vanity and fickleness, with offense to modesty and religious decorum. 
Hence, weeping, she said: U O unhappy souls, how much better would 
it have been for you, if you had remained in the world, than to have 
bound yourselves by solemn promises in the cloister, without observing 
them ! Now your torments increase in proportion to your unfulfilled 
obligations. . . . O religious poverty, how little thou art known and 
practiced ! If thou wert justly appreciated by those who profess to fol 
low thee, the cells would not be seen full of ornaments; the keeping of 
money to be spent according to one s will would be abhorred like poison ; 
and so many other vain pomps, unbecoming the true Religious, would 
be banished from the sacred cloisters. Oh ! how the beauty of religious 
poverty, O my Jesus, has become deformed by the possession of accursed 
property ! Oh ! how many souls of Religious are burning in hell for not 
having held in esteem and observed holy poverty !" Without fathoming 
the hidden thoughts of an individual, still the world itself has the right to 
ask of those who profess religious perfection : Why so much affectation in 
a habit which in its form indicates penance, and which even in its color 
signifies innocence? Why that luxury in dwellings, which rivals that 
of the world ? The pretext fox this luxury, that men of great dignity 
are received therein, is a vain one ; as the religious houses should repre 
sent the stable of Bethlehem, where the kings and the shepherds alike 
were received. It is impossible not to be convinced, upon the first accusa 
tion, of levity of spirit ; hence, those who are guilty of it, being unfaith 
ful to their assumed obligation, or, at least, incapable of doing all the 
good which is expected of them, are justly destined to that place where 
sighs, and cries, and loud lamentations resound through the air, and of 
whom it was "well said : 

Forthwith 

I understood, for certain, this the tribe 
Of those ill spirits both to God displeasing 
And to his foes. Dante s (Carey Trans.) Hell, III. 

But, thanks to Divine Providence, even to-day, in the midst of that 
class of persons, there are not wanting those who by their example, 
wisdom, and doctrine, which secure their perfection, lead others also 
into the path of salvation ; and this is particularly the case among the 
children of St. Francis, who follow more strictly the spirit of Jesus 
Christ, by poverty alone, which their holy founder called his lady, and on 
which he willed that the Order he was erecting should chiefly rest. 

Then, the season come that he, 

Who to such good had destined .him, was pleas d 

To advance him to the meed, which he had earn d 

By self-humbling ; to his brotherhood, 

As their just heritage, he gave in charge 

This dearest lady ; and enjoin d their love 

And faith to her Daniels (Carey Trans.) Parad. XI. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 113 

Another time, likewise in ecstasy, Magdalen saw a great multitude 
of souls of cloistered persons who were burning in the everlasting flames, 
because, to the great offense of God, they had abused the time which by 
the rules is generally granted for the recreation of the body, that after 
wards they might, with greater zest, attend to devotions. Here she also 
wept bitterly, and with a voice of sorrow pronounced these words : 
" O wretched Religious souls ! O great misery, that what is granted to 
Religious for their recreation should become the cause of their eternal 
ruin ! " And she offered to God the most fervent prayers, that He 
might condescend to enlighten those souls, bound by solemn vows, 
and having still time for penance left to them. 

8. SHE SEES THE SOUL OF A NUN OF HER MONASTERY WHO, 
AFTER BEING DEPRIVED OF THE BEATIFIC VISION FOR FlVE HOURS, 
GOES TO POSSESS THE ETERNAL JOYS. In 1598, about the end of October, 
in said monastery, Sister Maria Benedetta Vittori died, young in age, but 
old in virtue and perfection. Our Magdalen, who never failed to assist in 
cases of extreme importance, being present at her death, saw a great multi 
tude of angels surrounding her and waiting for her to draw her last breath. 
The following morning, whilst the body of the deceased was in the 
church, and Mass was being sung for her soul, she was rapt in ecstasy, 
and saw the soul of the sister in paradise, adorned with a glory superior 
to that of any other nun in the monastery who had previously died. 
Describing the ornaments and delights of that soul, she told how, 
in reward for her ardent charity, she was dressed with a gilt mantle ; 
and, for having always dealt with her neighbor in loyalty and meekness, 
a most sweet liquid came out of the mouth of Jesus into her own, and 
made her taste a great sweetness, and she freely fixed her eyes on the 
humanity and divinity of the Word. Magdalen, moved by the sight of 
so delightful an object, exclaimed in a voice of joy and complacency : 
U O my dove, how beautiful art thou! how resplendent with celestial 
light ! I know that now thou dost not go with thy head bowed down, 
as thou wast wont to do when amongst us." In the meantime she 
understood that this soul had been detained in purgatory five hours 
before ascending to heaven, but had not suffered there any pain of the 
senses, only the privation of the sight of God, and this for a very slight 
fault of self-love, which was that on seeing anyone displeased on her 
account she grieved so much that she was thereby distracted from her 
recollection in God. After this, recommending to that blessed soul her 
self and her monastery, the sweet vision ceased, and she returned to her 
senses. She had also seen in purgatory the soul of a Florentine gentle 
woman, who suffered heavily for having prevented her daughter from 
becoming a nun. 

9. BY FORCE OF ENTREATY SHE OBTAINS THE SALVATION OF 
THE SOULS OF TWO MEN SENTENCED TO DEATH. As human justice 
was leading two wretches to the last punishment, near the monastery 
of St. Maria degli Angeli, where they had treacherously perpetrated 
a murder, our Saint being informed of it, brought into action all the 
zeal of her most loving heart for the salvation of their souls, and 
doubled the efforts of her tender and winning mediation with the 



114 T HE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

Divine Mercy. At the moment in which the life of these two creatures 
of God was being cut off by the hand of man, Magdalen, rapt out of her 
senses, understood how the souls of both had passed to a place of salva 
tion : one ascending immediately to heaven, on account of a perfect resig 
nation to die ; the other, after a short stay in purgatory, because less 
resigned. Which, in fact, corresponded to the disposition of each 
of them in the different manner of submitting to their sad doom. 
The Christian death of both was chiefly attributed to the prayers of 
Mother Mary Magdalen, the assiduity, energy, and efficacy of which, in 
the eternal behalf of these two unhappy men, were known to all. 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 





CHAPTER XX. 

SHE SEES IN HEAVEN THE GLORIOUS ST. LOUIS GONZAGA OF THE 

SOCIETY OF JESUS. 



iHB language of the passions and that of ignorance easily 
lead us to generalize an opinion either in favor of cer 
tain classes of society or against them. In the strangest 
and most illogical manner a uniform character is attributed 
to all the members constituting a class of persons ; and, 
generally, this is in a bad sense, on account of the evil 
tendency of man to speak ill of his neighbor and calumniate 
him rather than to speak well of him and justify him. From 
the faults of some members the whole body is judged ; hence, the 
most monstrous injustice to the innocent ones. The ecclesiastical con 
gregations, and particularly the regular ones, are subject, more than 
others, to such wholesale condemnation ; and among these none has 
been or is still so maligned as the Society of Jesus. Men conspicuous 
for doctrine, power, and wealth joined the rabble ; nay, they themselves 
urged the attack on the Jesuits. Their rich possessions and their sup 
posed meddling in family and political affairs are causes for displeas 
ure, as thereby their spirit seems very unevangelical, viz., little loyal, but 
rather exceptionally egotistical in regard to other religious corporations. 
These faults may be the effect of the abuse of individual men, whose 
passions are never extinguished while on earth ; but they can never sup 
ply an honest pretext for inflicting a condemnation on the whole moral 
body. (Some other pernicious things of which the world sometimes 
complains, blaming the Jesuits for them, are rather to be blamed on 
those who, not being Jesuits in garb, affect to belong to them by affili 
ation, taking from them all their faults and none of their virtues ; hence, 
their spirit is moved by false zeal, which gnaws at charity and begets 
dissension, so that, more than others, these restless proselytizers disfigure 
and injure both the Company of St. Ignatius and the holy religion 
of Christ.) On the other hand, the perfection in science and virtue of 
so many members of this Company, who have spent their lives for the 
good of society in general, gives it the most legal and sacred right to 
public esteem and gratitude. To-day they militate under laws wholly 
identical with those that gave us such advantages ; so that there is no 
reason why the latter should not be reproduced. Therefore, not with 
contempt, which is ill adapted to persuade anybody, but with words 



THE LIFK AND WORKS OF 

of conviction and the evidence of facts, we must enter into their spirit, 
that they may lend us their hand to help us to walk steadfastly according 
to the needs of the day. It is a common saying that ignominious and 
coercive forms do not suit the present times, nor the ideas thereof. Let 
us, then, practice with everyone this most sound principle, and let us be 
convinced that modern society cannot reach its normal state until we 
uniformly come to an understanding in order to establish the universal 
brotherhood of man, to which object the wishes of all wise persons tend. 
Intellects have already been shaken ; young people, above all, pant after 
the knowledge of truth. Who gives them the glass in which to see 
themselves, and learn good morals, philanthropy, uprightness, and all 
that constitutes a young man such as the country may rest her hopes on? 
Who but the Jesuit in the person of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, reared and 
raised till the age of seventeen in a princely family, a model of purity 
and humility, and who lived in the Company of Jesus till the age 
of twenty- three? In that year of his age, which was the year 1591, a 
fierce pestilence broke out in Rome and cruelly scourged all Italy. 
During this plague, he gave proof of possessing the charity for his 
brethren of which Christ said there is none greater, viz., that charity which 
makes one give up his life for others ; and thus rendered himself such 
a model of spiritual perfection that there is no college or society of 
young people among Catholics, which has not chosen him as a protector 
and a guide. It is certainly a difficult thing for the Company to give 
us a second St. Aloysius ; but it cannot be denied that many of its 
members have several times since made great efforts to approach, as near 
as possible, his sanctity. We had an evident proof of this in our own 
days, when the pestilential scourge in 1837 again struck the lofty coun 
tenance of the Eternal City. It was then that the children of St. 
Ignatius distinguished themselves in a marvelous and singular manner 
in assisting corporally and spiritually the unhappy ones affected with 
cholera morbus, when some of the ecclesiastics, even the regular ones, 
had retired to avoid the contagion. The world, then, may yet look for 
some good from the Jesuits ; and as their social position, in preference 
to other Religious, enables them to do much good if they are filled with 
the pure spirit of their founder, just as they might do great harm if this 
spirit degenerates into a spirit of turbulence, intrigue, stubbornness, 
hypocrisy; therefore we must exhaust with them .all the means of con 
ciliation. And if this should prove to be useless, let us weep over 
the loss of those who wish to be lost ; but let us respect the dignity, the 
right, the justice of the innocent, whom we will always find amidst all 
classes of persons. 1 

To our St. Mary Magdalen, who was well disposed towards the 
Company of Jesus, God wanted to give a fresh proof of the very high 
perfection of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. On the 4th of April of the year 
1600, whilst she was praying with a very high degree of fervor, her mind 
was^ raised to the celestial beatitude, where she saw this angel of 
purity, radiant with sovereign splendor, enjoying with a most joyous 

i The reader should bear in mind the prevailing spirit of the times in which the 
original was written. Note of the Translator. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 1 17 

and glorious countenance the unutterable reward of his virtues. Daz 
zled by the sight of this heavenly object, with pauses and interruptions, 
she uttered these words: u Oh! how much glory Louis, the son of 
Ignatius, possesses ! I would never have believed it, unless Thou, O my 
Jesus, had shown him to me. ... It seems to me in a certain manner 
that there could scarcely be so much glory in heaven as that which 
Louis enjoys. ... I say that Louis is a great Saint. . . . We have saints 
in church (she meant Saints whose sacred relics they had in the church 
of the monastery) who, I believe, have not so much glory. ... I would 
like to be able to go through the whole world, and say that Louis, son of 
Ignatius, is a great Saint ; and I would like to be able to show his glory 
to everyone, that God might be glorified. . . . He possesses so much glory 
because of his interior work. . . . Who could ever relate the value and 
the merit of interior works ? There is no comparison between the 
interior and the exterior. . . . Louis, whilst on earth, kept his mouth 
open to the Word " (she meant to say that this Saint loved the interior 
inspirations of the Word and tried to fulfill them) . . . " Louis was a hid 
den martyr ; because he who loves Thee, my God, knows that Thou art 
so great and infinitely amiable, that it is a great martyrdom to him to see 
that he does not love Thee as much as he wishes to love Thee; and that 
Thou art not loved, but rather offended by creatures. . . . He made 
himself a martyr also. . . . Oh ! how much he loved Thee on earth ! 
hence he now rejoices in heaven in great fullness of love. . . . While 
on earth, the heart of the Word pierced him with darts ; now that he is 
in heaven, those darts rest in his heart ; as he now understands and 
enjoys those communications that he merited by the acts of love and 
union which he performed, and which were like darts." In seeing that 
this Saint prayed warmly for those who, during life, gave him spiritual 
help, she added : " I, too, will try to help souls, that, if any of them 
go to heaven, they may pray for me, as St. Louis does for those who, 
while on earth, assisted him." Here the Saint ceasing to speak, the 
vision and the rapture ended ; but she continued to venerate the Jesuit 
Luigi Gonzaga with great reverence and with the most tender and 
constant devotion all her lifetime. 




n8 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 




CHAPTER XXL 




SHE SEES AND FEELS FAR-OFF THINGS AS IF THEY 
WERE PRESENT. 

JJMONG the supernatural gifts with, which God vouchsafed to 
deck this bride of His, was this one, viz., her seeing and 
feeling things far from her as if they were present to her. 
She was several times favored with this gift, and especially 
in the following cases : 

i. SHE SEES IN SPIRIT AN ANSWER WHICH THE 
MOTHER, SISTER CATHERINE DE-RICCI, IN ST. VINCENT DI 
PRATO, WAS GIVING TO ONE OF HER LETTERS. In 1586, 
whilst Magdalen was one day in ecstasy in the novitiate hall, she dictated 
a letter addressed to Sister Catherine De-Ricci, a nun at that time living 
in the monastery of St. Vincent in Prato, and now enjoying the glory of 
heaven, and on earth the honors of the altar. The letter being sealed, it 
was sent to its destination by the steward of the monastery. A few 
hours having elapsed, and Magdalen still continuing in the same ecstasy, 
from the words uttered she gave the nuns to understand that she saw the 
steward handing the letter to Sister Catherine ; and shortly after, from the 
movement of her eyes, she appeared to read what that sister was writing 
in answer. As this answer did not fully meet her desire, she became 
somewhat troubled in her appearance ; and she also seemed to see 
the answer handed to somebody. About four hours afterward the stew 
ard returned with it, and was questioned by the sisters as to the time 
and other circumstances attending the execution of the commission. 
The letter was read by the superioress, who, having received from the 
Saint, after her rapture, a complete explanation of it, found everything 
to coincide with what had been ecstatically revealed to her. 

2. WHILE IN THE REFECTORY, SHE SAW THAf A NUN OF HER 
MONASTERY WAS DYING SUDDENLY IN A REMOTE CELL. In 1591, on 
a Friday evening, being in the refectory for the purpose of taking 
some little food with the other sisters, Mary Magdalen suddenly arose 
from the table, and, swiftly going to the superioress, told her 
with vehemence : " Mother, that soul passes away ! " Without saying 
anything further, she ran to the room where Sister Mattea Focardi, 
a lay-sister, was confined, because of a sore on her right leg, which was 
far from threatening death. By day, although confined to her room 




Being rapt in ecstasy, she receives Holy Communion from 
Jesus Christ Himself ( page 90). 



iiS 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 119 

but not to bed, she would work with promptness of spirit and agility of 
body. When Magdalen arrived, followed by other nuns, by the order of 
the mother prioress, Sister Mattea was found to be in her last agony ; 
and, the Saint recommending her soul, in a few minutes the dying one 
expired. 

3. FROM AFAR SHE HEARS TWO NOVICES, WHO WERE IN A REMOTE 

PLACE, MURMURING ABOUT THEIR NEIGHBORS. During the time when 
our Saint attended the novices in the company of the mistress, Sister 
Vangelista del Giocondo, she was speaking with her one day on an un 
important subject. She suddenly said, as if she had heard something 
extraneous to it: Mother, those two creatures speak not well; I will 
go and correct them." Guided by the Spirit of God, who, on account of 
her desire for the perfection of souls, manifested to her hidden things, 
she went directly to where these novices were, and found her vision to 
be true, as they themselves avowed both to her and to Sister Vangelista. 

4. FROM THE MONASTERY SHE SEES AND HEARS THE FATHER 
RECTOR OF THE JESUITS IN THE COLLEGE OF FLORENCE CONFERRING 
WITH HIS ASSOCIATES. In the year 1600, one Saturday evening about 
dark, she called to her the novice De-Berti, who in the world had been 
a penitent of the Rector of the Jesuits, and thus questioned her : 
"What dost thou think father rector is doing at this hour?" The 
novice answered: U I think he must be praying." "He is not 
praying," the Saint replied, " but talking with some of the fathers about 
such things (she named them) ; and the Holy Ghost is forming all the 
wor/is which he utters." On the following day, the above-named father 
having come, as the extraordinary confessor, to hear the sisters con 
fessions, she told him what she had seen and heard of him the evening 
previous, and he declared that her vision corresponded in every respect to 
the facts. 

5. SHE ANNOUNCES WITH CERTAINTY THE DEATH OF A NOBLEMAN 

OF FLORENCE BEFORE THE NOTICE OF IT REACHES THE MONASTERY. 
Pier -Francesco Santucci, of a distinguished Florentine family, was lying 
grievously ill, though not extremely so. He had a daughter, a nun and 
a companion of Magdalen in religion and in the monastery. The Saint, 
being alienated from her senses, seeing in spirit his passing, went to his 
daughter, and, taking her by the hand, said to her : " Sister, weep not ; thy 
father, by the merits of Christ and the intercession of St. Francis, for 
whom he entertained so much devotion, has passed at this moment to a 
place of salvation." The steward of the monastery was immediately 
dispatched to the Santucci palace, and in a very short time he returned 
with confirmation of the above news ; and the daughter attested that her 
father entertained great devotion to St. Francis, paying to him daily 
homage by several exercises of affectionate piety. 

6. SEVERAL TIMES SHE SEES IN SPIRIT THE ACTIONS OF HER 
FATHER CONFESSOR. The father confessor being in the church, and 
she in a remote cell, knowing nothing of him, it so happened that 
she saw him spiritually several times, and she manifested the vision as 
follows: u I see the blood of Christ dropping from heaven upon souls : 
the father is in church hearing confessions ; I, too, will go and receive 
this blood." And she went, and found him, in fact, engaged in that 



120 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

work. It also happened that when he was leaving the house or some other 
place, or was in the street, coming to the monastery, Magdalen by 
divine inspiration would speak of it to the nuns, and shortly after they 
would see him arrive. One day more distinctly feeling a strong desire 
to speak to her confessor, and being at that time in the refectory for the 
midday meal, whilst in the act of putting the food into her mouth, she 
was rapt in ecstasy ; and then, seeing in spirit that the father had 
reached the church, she dropped on the table what she held in her hand, 
and without delay ran to him. He had, in fact, arrived, and she con 
ferred with him on some of the favors with which God had privileged her. 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



131 





CHAPTER XXIL 

SHE FORETELLS THINGS TO COME AND SEES HIDDEN ONES. 



ESI DBS the aforesaid gift of knowing things from far off as 
if they were happening under her own eye, Magdalen had 
also the other one of foreseeing and foretelling them long 
before they happened. Whilst praying to God for the 
happy issue of some future thing, she was nearly always 
not only heard but granted a prevision of it. The nuns 
soon became aware with certainty of this most distinct 
privilege ; and, afterwards, even secular persons ; so that 
both the former and the latter, moved by inborn curiosity to know 
the future, used to go to her, for this purpose, often and with persist 
ence, and would then notice her words and sayings with the greatest 
accuracy. But she, knowing what they wished, was very cautious in 
guarding such a precious gift with the virtue of humility, not manifest 
ing her power except to her spiritual director, the superioress, or some 
sister who enjoyed her confidence. To others, and especially persons 
in the world, she would give general answers, even when she had a cer 
tain and special prevision. This she did on accouirt of her humility, 
which, by unalterable Divine disposition, was followed by greater exal 
tation. She was so penetrated by the spirit of prophecy, that often, 
without wishing it, she manifested to any one future things, especially 
during her ecstasies, when being filled with a supernatural force, 
she could not resist, as God then was speaking by her voice. During 
them, she was often heard to say : " Keep it to Thyself, O L,ord, keep 
it to Thyself:" meaning, by this, to annihilate any possible sentiment 
of curiosity or of her own worthiness. She considered herself wholly 
unworthy of such communications ; and that they might at least 
remain unknown to others, she would offer pressing prayers to God. 
Consequently, as a reward, she had more of them than could be counted, 
through God s wisdom and liberality. The following are the most 
remarkable ones : 

I. SHE PREDICTS THAT CARDINAL DE-MEDICI, ARCHBISHOP OF 
FLORENCE, WOULD BECOME POPE, BUT THAT HE WOULD ONLY LIVE A 
SHORT TIME IN SUCH DIGNITY. In September of the year 1586, when 
the nomination of the new prioress of the monastery of St. Maria degli 
Angeli was about to take place, His Eminence Alessandro De Medici, 



122 THE UFK AND WORKS OF 

Cardinal Archbishop of Florence, was coming to preside over the election. 
Magdalen was divinely inspired to speak to him on this occasion, about 
various things concerning the government of the Florentine Church, and 
particularly about that of her monastery. Some persons had so maliciously 
spoken to His Eminence about the Father Confessor, that he was almost 
resolved to remove him. The Saint, knowing this tendency, and judging 
it contrary to the will of God and the welfare of the monastery, felt 
determined to speak frankly about it to the Cardinal. But she wished 
first to submit her determination to the mother prioress and the con 
fessor himself for advice. Both of them opposed her so much in this 
that they were actually thinking of obliging her to hide in her cell dur 
ing the hours in which His Eminence would hear the opinion of the 
nuns. Prudential reasons moved them to this. But man s counsel is 
powerless against God s will. On the 29th of September, the day 
appointed for the election, Magdalen, having received Holy Communion 
early in the morning, became immediately alienated from her senses, 
and, while thus ecstatic, stopped at the grate of the chapter, which 
looks towards the church, where the superior was to receive the voice 
(vote) of the nuns ; and the virtue of the Spirit of God kept her immov 
able many hours, that is, until the arrival of His Eminence ; so that 
not even by force could she be removed or even shaken. At the sight 
of the Cardinal this immovability turned into a great animation of spirit, 
which made her suddenly utter these words in an ecstatic and majestic 
manner : " Alexander, Alexander, noli tang ere christos meos, et in 
andllis meis noli malignari" " Touch thou not my anointed: and do 
no evil to my handmaids" (Ps. civ, 15) adding afterwards that which 
God inspired her to manifest in behalf of the monastery and the con 
fessor. Then she came out of her ecstasy, and left the place. His Emi 
nence, greatly amazed at what he had heard, could not at the moment 
answer anything, but that this daughter had spoken well in the person 
of the Holy Ghost. He was so touched by it, that, after the ceremony, 
he had the Saint called to him and discoursed with her for a while, 
drawing therefrom evident proofs of her sanctity, and ineffable consola 
tion for his heart. Before leaving the monastery, he greatly com 
mended the virtue of Magdalen to Sister Vangelista del Giocondo, the 
new prioress, telling her that during the private colloquy Magdalen 
had foretold him that he was to be Pope. Magdalen corroborated 
this fact to the superioress when she asked her about it. When, after 
the lapse of some years, the same Cardinal was called to Rome to be 
sent to France as a Legate a latere of His Holiness Clement VIII, while 
going thither, and as he was in the street opposite the monastery of 
Santa Maria degli Angeli, Magdalen, who then was contemplating 
ecstatically the divine attributes, pronounced these words: " This 
Christ (such was the name she gave to the prelates) has received 
to-day a great honor, and will reach the supreme one; but it will 
not last long; when he will want to embrace his glory, it will dis 
appear." ^The same prediction she made several times when not in 
ecstasy; it was verified in 1605, when said Cardinal was elected 
Sovereign Pontiff, assuming the name of Leo XI ; and the -completion 
of this prophecy took place twenty-seven days afterwards, when, leaving 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 

the pomp that the world was prodigally giving him, he returned the 
dust of his body to the earth, and his soul appeared before that terrible 
Judgment-Seat, before which no human power can take exception. 

2. SHE FORESEES THAT SOME GlRLS WILL BECOME NUNS IN 

HER MONASTERY. On account of the love this Saint bore her Re 
ligion, she did her best in order that the rules would be invariably 
observed : thus she constantly prayed to God that he might, for 
this monastery, select souls endowed with the true spirit ; which being 
granted her by Divine Goodness, several times some girls were made 
known to her in spirit whom God proposed would become nuns therein ; 
and especially in the following instance : One day in 1 590, being in ecstasy, 
she said that she saw the Blessed Virgin leading a girl from the Indies, to 
become a nun among them. The sisters present, hearing this news, were 
troubled, as it would be very much against their wishes to accept foreign 
ers. The cause of their trouble becoming known to the Saint, she 
assured them, that, being led by the Blessed Virgin, that girl would 
certainly be endowed with all the virtues suitable to this vocation; and 
said, in particular, that she would be a lover of poverty, of self-abase 
ment, and much enlightened as to the religious life. This prophecy was 
fulfilled five years afterwards, when, in 1595, Catherine, daughter of 
Roderigo Ximenez, a Portuguese, having been brought to Florence 
by her parents to marry into a noble family of that city, refused all 
earthly espousals, and chose the religious state in said monastery ; all of 
which happened a month after her arrival in Florence. She was called 
Sister Catherine Angelica. On the day of her receiving the habit, 
Magdalen foretold many things which were to happen to her during her 
life; and she herself testified in time that these came to pass just as the 
Saint had foretold. 

In 1598, a Florentine girl of the noble family De-Berti, to please 
an aunt, entered the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli for ten days. 
For several reasons she had positively decided to become a nun among 
the Dominicans of St. Catherine of Florence. But witnessing, during 
one of these days, a rapture of our Saint, she felt constrained to question 
her thus: " Dost thou believe, mother, that I am to be a nun in this 
monastery? And Magdalen immediately answered : " I not only believe 
it, but know with certainty that thou shalt be here with us. " This seem 
ing impossible to the girl, and whilst she was thinking of some difficul 
ties she foresaw, Magdalen, as if seeing her thoughts, subjoined : "Jesus 
will send down some of His dew on these hearts and will mollify them, 
and every difficulty will vanish." The same thing she repeated to her 
another time at the gates of the monastery, when this girl had come 
out ; and she showed herself so sure of it that, if an angel had told her 
the contrary, she would have taken him for a demon. The prophecy of 
the Saint was fulfilled, as the De-Berti became a nun in this monastery; 
and, out of veneration and gratitude, she wished and obtained to be 
called Sister Mary Magdalen. 

At that time there was being educated, in the above-mentioned 
monastery of St. Catherine, Francesca de Sommai, a noble Florentine girl,, 
who, because of her singular goodness and innocence, being like an 
angel in the flesh, was greatly loved by the said De-Berti, who had been 



THF < LIFE AND WORKS Otf 

her companion for some years in the same monastery. Hence, De-Berti, 
being now a nun in the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, 
wished very much to have with her so dear a companion in the most 
intimate and lasting manner, that is, she wished God would lead her to 
become a nun in the same monastery. For this she was always praying 
to God, and she also often importuned our Saint that she might for this 
purpose interpose the power of her mediation with God. One day, our 
Saint being in ecstasy, she asked her this question : u Mother, dost thou 
think that Francesca de Sommai is to be a nun with us?" To which 
Magdalen frankly replied : u Jesus showed her to me with our habit on." 
Another time she answered a like interrogation as follows : " I doubt 
not but that Francesca de Sommai will be a nun in this monastery : I 
know it with certainty." Nothing was yet known about the girl s inten 
tion. At the end of two years Francesca came out of the monastery of 
St. Catherine, and, moved by devout curiosity, for some days entered into 
that of Santa Maria degli Angeli. All her affection, though, was for the 
former, where she had dwelt from the age of three years. Nevertheless, 
inspired in an altogether singular manner, she selected the latter in 
which to become a nun, and carried out her determination with great 
solicitude. 

3. To A MOTHER WHO OBSTINATELY REFUSED HER DAUGHTER 
PERMISSION TO BECOME A NUN, SHE FORETELL DEATH, IN PUNISH 
MENT OF THIS REFUSAL. In 1594 a noble Florentine girl anxiously 
wished to become a nun in the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli ; 
but her mother was inflexibly opposed to it. To overcome this opposi 
tion, the afflicted girl was having recourse to the prayers of our Saint, 
who, knowing the obstinacy of the lady, said one day to her daughter 
that her mother would shortly die and she herself would become a nun 
in this monastery. Both of which things came to pass that same year. 

4. THROUGH HER INTERCESSION A GENTLEWOMAN CONCEIVES A 
DAUGHTER, AND OUR SAINT FORETELLS THAT IN CASE THE GIRL 

BE NOT CONSECRATED TO GOD IN RELIGION, BOTH MOTHER AND 

DAUGHTER WILL HAVE TO ENDURE GREAT TRIALS IN THE WORLD ; 
AND IT so HAPPENED. About that time a lady of Florence, much 
noted for her title and state, was grieving because God had granted her 
no children. In order to be consoled, she had recourse with confidence 
to the prayers of our Magdalen ; and she was not disappointed. Not 
many days elapsed before she felt that her ardent wish was about to be 
gratified. The knowledge oi this fact having been imparted to Magda 
len, she said: "Tell the lady that she will give birth to a girl ; but to 
remember that she will be a child of prayer and therefore must be dedi 
cated to God in the sacred Religion ; or else great will be the sorrows of 
both mother and daughter." The birth took place according to the pre 
diction, and the sorrows came also afterwards. The mother, forgetful of 
the warning of the Saint, or too mindful of worldly honor, when her 
daughter reached a suitable age, married her to a rich marquis, who, 
haying shortly afterward been found guilty of rebellion against his 
prince, lost his head by the executioner s axe. His property was confis 
cated, leaving his widow in sad desolation and with the indelible mark of 
infamy on herself and relatives. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 125 

5. SHE FORETELLS OTHER CHASTISEMENTS TO A GlRL IN CASE 
SHE DID NOT FOLLOW HER RELIGIOUS VOCATION, AND TO HER MOTHER 
IN CASE SHE WOULD OPPOSE HER ; AND THE PREDICTION CAME TRUE. 

Another girl, a noble Florentine, felt called by God to the religious 
state ; and in fact, in order to try it for a while, she entered, for some 
days, the monastery of St. Maria degli Angeli ; but, allured by human 
interests and considerations, could not bring herself to a final decision, 
because her mother was unwilling to give her consent to it. The 
Saint failed not to do her best, in order that the girl would correspond 
with fidelity to the divine call ; but, seeing her still irresolute, she told 
her frankly that God had chosen her to be a nun in that monastery, and 
that if she refused to become one she would have to suffer many adver 
sities in the world, and if her mother would dissuade her from becoming 
a nun she, too, would be severely punished. But neither one nor the other 
paid any attention to Magdalen s words, which, having been inspired by 
God, were not uttered in vain, as great family woes befell the daughter 
after she was married, and the mother was visited by a cancer of such 
intensity and malignity that in a short time it carried her to the grave 
amidst the most excruciating pains. 

6. SHE FORETELLS THE RECOVERY OF A NUN WHO WAS SERIOUSLY 
ILL, AND OTHER PARTICULAR EVENTS. Sister Maria Vincenza Dati, a 
noble Florentine girl, who had been six years a nun in the monastery of 
St. Maria degli Angeli, and had always been in ill health, in 1592 was 
attacked by such a violent fever that the physicians thought a pulmo 
nary ailment would soon ensue. She suffered this fever for eighteen 
months, and her health was wholly despaired of. This nun, knowing her 
dangerous condition, placed her confidence, which is never totally extin 
guished in the heart of the living, in the efficacy of prayer, recommend 
ing herself particularly to the great charity of our St. Mary Magdalen. 
The Saint felt compassion for her, and said to her one morning after Holy 
Communion: "Sister, have faith, as Jesus wishes to restore thee to thy 
health. " She then prayed before a Crucifix, made the sign of the cross 
on the sick sister, and added : u Thou shalt recover little by little, so that 
it will seem as if thou didst recover naturally ; as for this purpose I 
prayed to Jesus. Moreover, I tell thee that thou shalt live many years 
in Religion in good health, and wilt be able to obey all orders and labor 
in all offices like the others." This prediction was verified completely, 
as in the course of three months the patient had entirely recovered her 
health in a very natural way, and lived a long time afterwards, working 
with invariable activity at all things which the rule and obedience im 
posed on her. 

7. WHAT SHE ASSERTS TO MARIA DE-MEDICI, QUEEN OF FRANCE, 
COMES TO PASS. SOME REFLECTIONS ARE PREMISED IN REGARD TO 
THIS. After the example given by Christ to His disciples in washing 
their feet, and the exhortations made to them to imitate Him the 
disciples, thinking of the sorrow they should feel for His ignominious 
and painful death, which was approaching and had been by Him 
openly announced to them; and detesting the treason which they 
knew one of them was to commit, and on account of which all were 
dismayed and full of grief; in fine, after having listened for three 



126 THE LIFE AND WORKvS OF 

years to His exalted teachings, forgetful in a moment of all and 
little understanding them, they began to contend among themselves 
regarding the pre-eminence and the honors of the kingdom prom 
ised by the Divine Saviour. They were so ambitious that each of them 
not only burned with the desire to occupy an honorable place in that 
kingdom, but wished to be exalted above his brethren ; and thus they 
were battling among themselves with regard to their greatness or 
preference. So strong is the pride which the first father transmitted 
to his children that it could not be kept quiet, even in the hearts of men 
on whom the most efficacious graces of divine perfection had been imme 
diately bestowed. This most hateful sentiment has caused, in every age 
and country, the devastation of the most sacred rights of humanity. 
Well did Italy experience this, and more particularly Florence, whose 
very buildings, according to Sismondi, give a special idea of the indi 
vidual strength and cupidity of citizens who wish to be great, and of the 
haughtiness of the great ones who will not associate with them. The 
fifteenth century witnessed the ill-omened conspiracy of the Pazzi against 
the house of Medici, which furnished the most evident proof of the 
difficulty of establishing an Italian government, one and national. 
Everywhere in Italy the factions of those times were rotating like a wind 
mill now for one, and now for another rival, according to the expression 
of the famous emir and marabout, Abd-el-Kader, but were always 
crushing down new victims. Thus it happened that, the sovereign 
power being seized by extraordinary and preponderant forces, every one 
had to keep pent up within his breast the noble thought of fatherland- 
reputed by those in power to be criminal and the unhappy Peninsula 
was seen 

.... girded, but not with her sword ; 
Fighting, but with the arm of foreign people ; 
Ever doomed to servitude, whether victorious or vanquished. FIUCAJA. 

Thus works human ambition, the archenemy of brotherly love. 
But, as the Divine Master permitted that His disciples would profit so 
little in virtue, that afterwards, being ashamed of their nothingness, they 
would become rooted in humility and thereby worthy of the Divine 
assistance, with which they were finally so copiously favored, so He 
wanted to teach all that ambition, thirst for power, and rivalries originate 
purely from man s wickedness, from which nothing better can be 
expected, and, vice versa, that the forgiveness of injuries, individual 
charity for our neighbor, and veneration of innocence are the outcome 
of virtue, which, in order to be ingenuous and pure, can have no other 
beginning than God. That such was the virtue of St. Mary Magdalen 
De-Pazzi, it is superfluous to repeat. I will rather say that we may 
believe the virtue of Princess Maria, daughter of Francis, Grand Duke 
of Tuscany, to have been true also, as it seems that, the aristocratic 
aversions being still alive, she laid down at the foot of the cross every 
low rancor, every perturbing recollection, and rendered what was due 
respectively to the individual, to crime, and to innocence. She several 
times manifested her affection and regard for the De-Pazzi family, 
and in a special manner for St. Mary Magdalen, towards whom she 
conducted herself in an extremely devout and affectionate manner. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 

At different times she went in person to visit her at her monastery. 
The most remarkable thing happened in 1600, when, having been 
solemnly married to Henry IV, king of France, before leaving Italy 
she wished to have a confidential and private conference with our 
Saint. The queen recommended to the prayers of St. Mary Mag 
dalen principally three things : the first, a most important one 
and worthy of the nobility and piety of her spirit, was, that the tem 
poral kingdom would not be to her the cause of losing the eternal, 
adding that if she had any doubt of it she would rather have chosen to 
live poor, and to beg from door to door, than to accept the position of 
queen. She asked St. Mary Magdalen to pray to God that the high 
dignity to which Providence had raised her would not make her forget 
her nothingness to the detriment of her soul, and the offense of Divine 
Goodness. Oh ! if the princes and the powerful ones of the world would 
think thus, the submission of others would be more spontaneous and 
loyal, and they would not for the slightest cause feel the necessity of 
using brutally coercive force ! The second recommendation was, that 
her husband might love her ; the third, that she might have male issue. 
The holy mother promised her to pray to God for these just petitions, 
and asked her, in return, these three graces: That she herself would 
interpose with the king in order that he would reestablish the Jesuits in 
his kingdom, telling her that it would redound to the very great advan 
tage of France and the great glory of God ; the second, that she should 
try to extirpate heresies, and bring the kingdom to the condition in 
which it was in St. Louis time ; the third one, that she would be a lover 
of the poor. And the Saint told her that, if she did these three things, 
God would surely satisfy her wishes, particularly the one in regard to 
male issue. She also told the nuns several times during this first year 
of the marriage of Maria De-Medici, that this queen would give birth to 
several male children, as she was praying to God for this with the 
greatest fervor, in order that the kingdom would not fall into the hands 
of heretics. It happened afterwards that the queen had several sons, the 
first of whom was Louis XIII, for whom she was regent for several 
years, when he succeeded in 1611 his unhappy father whose precious 
days were cut off by the wicked Francis Ravillac, which event filled entire 
France with inconsolable sorrow he having been regarded as a good 
husband, a good father, and a good ruler. Even from the year 1604 the 
Jesuits had been recalled to France, and this by a declaration of par 
liament, on condition that one of them would remain at court to give 
an account of the doings of the Society. This condition, almost an 
ignominious one, became for them a marked honor, as they succeeded 
in being appointed the king s confessors. The queen-mother, after the 
celebrated Cardinal Richelieu through her mediation was promoted to 
be the Prime Minister of State, and after having done her best for the 
welfare of the kingdom, being somewhat displeased about some political 
affairs, retired to Brussels, and ended her days at Cologne in 1642, leav 
ing behind good reason to hope that she had passed to the permanent 
enjoyment of that peace which is the fruit of virtue alone, and which is 
expected in vain from human greatness and glory. Her wise son and 
good king Louis XIII did not long survive her ; and was succeeded in the 



I2 8 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

kingdom by his son Louis XIV, who, at his birth, was regarded by the 
French as a gift Heaven had granted in response to their desires ; hence, 
they named him Adeodato (God-given). The glory of his government 
and his immortal deeds secured for him afterwards the surname of Great. 

8. A PREVISION, MANIFESTED TO SEVERAL PERSONS, IN RE 
GARD To THE TIME OF THEIR DEATH. In 1590 there was living 
in the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, in perfect health, Sister 
Maria Grazia Gondi, as teacher of novices. One day, our Saint seeing 
in spirit that this nun in a short time was to fall sick and die, approach 
ing the mistress of novices, told her: "Mother Mistress, your teacher 
will die in a few days." The mistress was both shocked and grieved at 
this news, and, awaiting the confirmation of it, saw the prediction 
verified in less than fifteen days, by a terrible and sudden sickness, which 
rapidly carried away Sister Maria Grazia. 

At the death of a fellow-sister of this monastery in 1594, the Saint, 
whilst offering prayers for the repose of her soul, was rapt in ecstasy, 
and saw her in the glory of heaven. Remaining for some time in con 
templation, she finally uttered, as if in amazement, these wordls : u Oh ! 
the pillars of the monastery shake ! " And turning to the mother, 
Sister Kvangelista, who was present, added : u Thy column shall 
remain." Coming out of the ecstasy, and being asked the meaning of 
these expressions, she answered that the Lord had shown her that in 
a short time four mothers of the council of that monastery were to die : 
who having all been prioresses, had supported, like pillars, the good 
government of the community with their wisdom and experience ; and 
that she, Sister Hvangelista, who had also been prioress, would survive 
them many years. In the course of a few months death truly overtook 
the former ones, and the latter survived them for the long space of nearly 
thirty years. 

A young lady of the notable Florentine house of the Gianfigliazzi, 
having become a nun in the monastery, * under the name of Sister 
Maria Caterina, when the time for her profession arrived, although in 
very good health, she was told by the Saint that she would not live long 
after her profession ; and this was verified at the end of six months. 
Three days after the death of Sister Maria Caterina, whilst our Saint 
was praying for her soul, she saw her in ecstasy coming out of purga 
tory and going joyously into heaven. She understood during the same 
ecstasy that Sister Maria Innocenzia Dati, who also was a young novice, 
of florid and robust appearance, would very soon die. Three months 
afterwards this novice was no longer among the living. Another young 
sister of the same monastery, Sister Maria Benedetta Vettori, being 
sick, but not seriously so, our Saint foresaw that she would die of that 
illness, and made it known to a sister of hers, a nun also in the same 
monastery, in these words : " What wouldst tliou say if thy sister 
would die ? This thought cannot but sadden thee ; but it is necessary 
to conform to God s will." Within the month Sister Maria Benedetta s 
days were ended. Mary Magdalen foretold, to another nun of her mon 
astery, that she would die without the sacraments. This sister was 
seized with great fear and sadness, as she knew how reliable were Sister 
Mary Magdalen s predictions, and. she went immediately to the superioress 




She frees a woman from the devil (page 97 ). 
128 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 139 

with the sad news ; but the latter told her to keep herself prepared 
and well disposed. It so happened that, before a long time had elapsed, 
one of the veins in her breast broke, and she was so quickly suffocated by 
the rush of blood that it was impossible to administer the sacraments 
to her. 

When the Saint was in her last illness, Sister Maria Maddalena 
Berti, already mentioned, begged her that, if the Lord would call her to 
Himself, she would come three days afterwards to take her also out of 
this world, as she did not think it possible to survive her longer, on 
account of the great affection she bore her. Sister Alessandra del 
Beccuto, the infirmary nun young, healthy, and strong hearing these 
words, and almost making fun of them, said to the Saint: "Mother, 
please gratify her; take her along with thee into paradise." At these 
words, the Saint, smiling, turned to Sister Berti, and told her : " I shall 
not come for thee ; but I shall certainly come for Sister Alessandra." 
About a year after this prophecy the holy mother died, and two months 
and a half after her death Sister Alessandra also died. 

During the last days of the life of St. Mary Magdalen, a nun of her 
monastery, Sister Maria Vittoria Ridolfi, a promising young sister, was 
sick. Being warmly recommended by the superioress to the prayers of 
the Saint, that she might regain her health, the Saint replied with this 
strong assertion : " It is the will of God that she should die, and this will 
happen a few days after my death." The death of the Saint followed 
shortly, and that of Sister Maria Vittoria six days afterwards. At that 
same time, two sick men being recommended to the prayers of the Saint 
(one of them was Signer Filippo del Caccia) she said : " The Signor 
Filippo will die, but the other will get well." And it so happened. 

9. PARTICULAR MANIFESTATION AS TO WHICH OK THE NOVICES 
WOULD BE PRESENT AT HER DEATH, AND PREDICTIONS ABOUT THE 
TIME OF THE SAME. Magdalen being the mistress of novices for the 
first time, that is seven years before her death, spoke to them one day 
in such a manner that she named those among them who would be 
present at her death. Those who did not hear their names conjectured 
that they were to die before she did ; hence Sister Elizabeth Rabatti, one 
whose name had been passed over in silence, to remove all doubts, said 
to her: u Mother mistress, assist me at my death." To which she re 
plied : " I shall be living at the time of thy death, but unable to assist 
thee." It so happened that all the novices whose names had not been 
pronounced died before Mary Magdalen did ; and Sister Elizabeth died 
precisely at the time when our Saint was so overcome by her own sick 
ness that she could not render her any assistance. When the physicians, 
after having given up all hope of recovery, judged that but a few days of 
life were left to St. Mary Magdalen, they requested the prioress to have 
Extreme Unction administered to her, she, hearing this news and the 
opinion of the doctors, said : " Be assured, mother prioress, that I shall 
not die so soon, as my time has not yet come." She survived a year 
longer than had been thought possible by the erroneous judgment of 
man s science. On the 25th of April, 1607, Sister Orsola died in the 
same monastery, and as soon as she breathed her last, some nuns went to 
tell i to the Saint, who was sick in bed, and to them she said : " To-day 



130 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

a month I will die too." One of them remarking that the Ascension 
would fall, that year on the 24th of May, and thinking that the Saint 
was to die on that day, added : "I would not like that thou shouldst die 
on the feast of the Ascension." To which our seer replied in a tone of 
certainty : "The day of the Ascension I will be here." And her happy 
death, in fact, took place on the 25th of the following May, one day after 
said solemnity. 

10. KNOWLEDGE OF FUTURE THINGS CONCERNING THE MONAS 
TERY. On the 23d of March, 1584, whilst this chosen soul was alien 
ated from her senses after sacramental Communion, there appeared 
before her mind a beautiful garden with many trees, some larger and 
some smaller. A skillful and diligent gardener tilled it with the greatest 
profit, when, behold ! on the third day she saw a squalid and gloomy 
person, scythe in hand, coming from afar, and striking this good 
guardian on the legs in such a way that he fell to the ground, seemingly 
unable to rise. During the period of uncertainty as to whether the 
gardener would recover or not from his fall, another gardener was pro 
posed, who, on account of his apparent good qualities and the protec 
tions with which he seemed to be covered, was commonly regarded as 
very suitable ; but some of them having penetrated his spirit and 
seen and made known something unfavorable, so much opposition was 
raised to him, especially by twelve of the larger trees, that he was not 
accepted, nor could he enter the garden. Then another one was pro 
posed, who, though good in himself, yet was not suitable for the cultiva 
tion of such a garden ; hence this one was also rejected. In order to 
get rid of these two, especially the first one, much energy had to be 
used. The wise gardener having now recovered from his fall, returned 
to his former occupation, to the ever-increasing advantage of the garden. 
The person with the scythe repeated at other times the attacks on him, 
and finally succeeded in striking him so severely that he did not again 
recover. Then the greater part of the trees fell, and all of them were 
shaken, with the exception of the twelve above alluded to, which were 
so well rooted and fixed that not only did they not shake in the least, 
but through their influence became of such assistance to the others that 
in a short time all of them arose who had fallen to the ground. The 
meaning of the vision was this : The garden represented the monastery; 
the twelve trees meant twelve Religious who were the most perfect ; the 
gardener was the father confessor, Rev. Agostino Cam pi, and the three 
days signified that he was yet to live three years, at the end of which time 
he would be struck by so serious an illness as to make one doubt of his 
recovery; but that, through the mercy of God, recovering, he would 
yet live some time to the spiritual advantage of the monastery, though 
from time to time his life might be in danger. It so happened that, in 
the midst of frequent dangers, he lived four years longer, that is, until 
the 5th of June, 1591. During his last illness the Saint, with the 
warmest fervor, begged the Divine Clemency that he might be spared 
to her till the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. After 
many prayers, she heard interiorly from the Lord, that though he would 
not be alive on the day of said solemnity, yet he would live as long as 
would be necessary for the peace and good direction of the monasterv. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 131 

So it happened ; as, having received Extreme Unction on the second day 
of Pentecost, and whilst his loss was commonly regarded as imminent 
and irreparable, there was danger that he would be replaced by one of 
those above mentioned, with serious harm to the monastery on account 
of their relative incapacity. But God, who does not speak in vain to the 
hearts of his beloved ones, made Campi recover from his illness, and 
improve so far as to be able to hear the confessions of the nuns on 
the feast of Corpus Christi, and also give them Holy Communion. 
In the meantime, the monastery was altogether freed from the above- 
mentioned danger, thus verifying all the Lord had foretold this blessed 
mother. The vision continued in the following manner: There were 
rooted in the garden three hearts; but there was only one into which 
God infused and distilled an agreeable and sweet dew, which thoroughly 
fertilized it. These three hearts, she understood, belonged to three 
priests, two of whom loved the monastery spiritually, and had much 
confidence in Campi ; and the third one had been the extraordinary con 
fessor of it, by order of the Most Eminent Archbishop. The dew which 
she saw being infused into this heart was the grace of God, with which he 
was to nourish and well direct the souls entrusted to him ; because of which 
the holy mother was well pleased, rejoicing in the Divine Providence 
that with so much art and love had predisposed the spirit of this priest 
for the benefit of the nuns. During this vision she saw also the soul of 
Rev. Agostino Campi being raised up to celestial glory, and bearing as a 
special ornament a red stole, the reward due to a martyr. She understood 
that such a distinctive mark had been given him for three reasons: first, 
for the infirmities he had virtuously borne ; secondly, for the persecution 
which he encountered, and which he endured with much constancy and 
patience; thirdly, for the burning desire which he felt, during life, to 
submit in reality to the pains of martyrdom. That soul afterwards 
appeared to her as if addressing to his successor, Rev. Francesco Ben- 
venuti, these words: "I labored much to cultivate that vineyard and 
garden; now it is thy turn." And, turning to the Most Holy Trinity, 
he paid homage and begged that an abundance of grace would be 
given to Benvenuti, in order that he also might continue in that 
spiritual cultivation. Here it seemed as if Campi had eviscerated him 
self in behalf of his successor, and poured into him all the virtues which 
he had practiced during life in order to bring to perfection all the souls 
entrusted to him. The facts well prove that Benvenuti was moved by 
an instantaneous and irresistible impulse to conform himself, as far as 
possible, to the sentiments and practices of his predecessor, especially in 
regard to the frequenting of the sacraments, although many other inter 
ests often called him elsewhere. At another time the Saint saw our 
Ivord, who, from among many priests, was selecting two for the 
monastery ; one of whom He was taking out of the wilderness, 
and the other from among the people, and both of whom He was 
holding by the hair. The second was given to the monastery 
before the first one ; and this was verified in the person of Ben 
venuti, who was chosen confessor and director, although he was 
very much bound to society by many occupations. She saw the other 
one resting in a place where he was doing much good ; but he was kept 



132 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

there until the time when he would be given to the monastery. This 
happened in the person of Rev. Vincenzo Puccini, a man who was 
leading an hermitical life, and who succeeded Benvenuti after the latter s 
death. She also understood how these two fathers were to feed the 
souls of the nuns, and govern the monastery according to the spirit of 
the Society of Jesus ; and so both of them did. 

She saw, moreover, a most beautiful garden, in the midst of which 
was planted a noble and resplendent tree laden with divers fruits, some 
small, some large ; some sour, some neither sour nor altogether ripe ; 
some very beautiful and well seasoned, distilling their sweetness into 
others, but this was hindered by some cobwebs which enveloped the 
tree. By the garden-gate someone was coming in with a mattock and 
a cross on his shoulder, and a game-pouch with many little pockets full 
of various seeds, which he would sow in the garden with great care and 
love. She understood the garden to be her monastery. The tree 
planted in the midst of it, bearing a variety of fruits, signified the differ 
ent profits of every nun ; for some, like little fruits, were wanting in 
those virtues which are required by religious perfection ; others, like 
sour fruits, would not let the regular discipline make them perfect ; and 
finally, others, by the continuous exercise of the real and true virtues, 
and the union with God, were like very beautiful fruits, seasoned and 
savory, distilling the sweetness of their words and actions into their 
companions, though some imperfections then existing in the com 
munity prevented this distillation from reaching its proper end. She 
understood that he who was entering with mattock and cross on his 
shoulder was^ Benvenuti, who again, with the weight of the government 
of the monastery and the souls in it, was going to cultivate this garden, 
sowing therein his doctrine, his counsel and advice, both for the general 
good of the community and the individual need of every one. She 
also understood how those cobwebs, that is, those imperfections- 
caused great displeasure to this gardener ; and that, unless they were 
brushed away, as the Saint afterwards declared to the mother prioress, 
she feared they might prevent the realization of the ardent and anxious 
desire of perfection which this father entertained, and that his diligent 
concern might remain fruitless through the fault of others. 

The said garden presented two circuits of buildings : one very 
spacious, but not high ; the other narrow, but very high. The first was 
the one spiritually built by Father Campi large and spacious, he having 
been many years in the government of the monastery ; but not high, as 
he had to do much in laying the foundations, that is, introducing many 
things of essential religious obligation ; so that he was prevented from 
attending as fully as he would have wished to the sublimity of the interior 
perfection, especially among the generality of the nuns. The other circuit 
was that which Rev. Francesco Benvenuti was to build not large, for he 
was not, as the Saint foresaw, to live many years in the spiritual direction 
of the monastery ; but of a height far superior to that of the first one, 
as he would lead the souls, already well prepared, to a much more 
elevated perfection ; and in the meantime, gathering to himself all that 
the other had formerly built, he would introduce the souls into a gen 
eral storehouse, and inebriate them with the wine of cheerfulness, which 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 133 

is the divine love ; and then he would lead each one into a particular 
storehouse. He would lead them into the first by the perfect observ 
ance of the three vows, through the influence of his zeal ; and into the 
second, by means of the great assistance he would lend to each one that 
she might correspond with fidelity to her own vocation. Here appeared 
to the Saint a mountain so high that its summit could not be discerned 
by the human eye ; this was the mountain of perfection, towards which 
the same father was directing them ; and, as they walked towards it, she 
noticed some moving with great swiftness and without any impediment, 
others more slowly and interruptedly, others were made to fall by the 
wind of their passions, and others were drawn back by the weight of 
their garments, viz., their vicious habits ; and those who fell were taken 
by the same father into his arms, and, with great love, replaced and led 
up in the direction of the mountain by means of his spiritual help. 
The Lord gave her to understand how our adversaries, the demons, 
could not harm said Benvenuti, as he was always accompanied by 
St. Francis the Seraphic and St. Catherine of Siena, who, on account 
of the special devotion he had towards them, defended him in a manner 
wholly insuperable, one with the cross, and the other with the precious 
blood of Jesus and the crown of thorns. 

In the same year, 1591, as Easter was approaching, she saw at 
another time, in spirit, the garden of her Religion, which, through the 
care of the gardener, was very prosperous, its trees and fruits being beau 
tiful and exquisite ; but one had to take care not to lower the branches 
to the ground lest they should be gnawed by the grubs ; though even 
for that the gardener had a remedy, as by the burning fire of charity and 
zeal for the salvation of souls, he killed and exterminated those larvae. 
" If I," said she in an ecstasy, " had to paint the gardener of this place, 
I would not represent him in the habit he wears, but in the garb of the 
prophets ; he who saw them knows how it is ; and, as his wishes rest 
in a firm place, I would give him Nazaritic locks, and put in his right 
hand a globe, and, instead of those two little points, I would fix there 
the knowledge of himself and of God ; and, instead of the little shovel, 
which is in the middle, I would put a Crucifix ; and instead of the 
signs which indicate all the movements of the sun around the globe, 
I would place all the potential virtues, viz., charity, obedience, humility, 
patience, knowledge of God and one s self, as this is what I am philoso 
phizing about. In his left hand I would put a book full of the various 
flowers and sweet fruits of the texts and authorities of the Sacred Scrip 
tures, together with the Epistles of St. Paul, in which so many times is 
mentioned the mellifluous name of Jesus, which he wishes to have im 
pressed in his heart and in the heart of all creatures. I am not afraid 
of being deceived in judging the inmost desire of this gardener s heart, 
as I am sure he has no other end in view but the salvation of souls." 

Some days afterwards, being rapt in spirit, she saw the demons 
who had plotted together to attack and destroy this garden ; and, as the 
loving God had increased His gifts therein, and the spiritual means of 
loving and serving Him, so they redoubled the hatred and the tempta 
tions upon the Religious, to prevent, above all, the profit which Benvenuti 
would have brought to them. Hence, she saw more distinctly than at 



134 THS LIFE AND WORKS OF 

any other time, as we have said, the monastery filled with devils in every 
place except the chapter, which they could not enter on account 
of the acts of humiliation practiced there. They employed all their 
malignity to harm the sisters. In the room set apart to receive Holy 
Communion and hear the word of God they interposed many obstruc 
tions, that is, they tried to cloud their intellects and to fill their hearts 
with vain thoughts, so that they might not know the great union which 
is made with God in that act, and, instead of appreciating the immense 
grace and the ineffable efficacy of His word, they would go there thought 
lessly and as if from habit. The devils also tempted them, by means of 
various artifices, to abstain from the Eucharistic Food ; and, when any 
of the sisters would succumb, the demons would make a great feast and 
swear at them. In the work-hall, besides insinuating negligence and 
torpor to the detriment of religious poverty, they would incite them to 
useless discourses, and sometimes even to such discourses as were inju 
rious to the charity of their neighbors. While in the refectory, she saw 
a demon at the door, who, as the sisters came in, gave them some 
vials to smell, and many demons incited them to a dislike for mortifica 
tion, tempting them not to pay any attention to the reading, or else to 
murmur inwardly about the quality of the food and to desire more 
delicacies. But the strongest and most pressing temptation in all 
places and at all hours tended to distraction, and consequently to the 
abuse of speech, resulting in a breach of the most sacred duty binding a 
person living in a religious community. The victorious demons then 
seemed to play ball with the vanquished heart. 

On another day, she saw that, as Benvenuti was nearing the entrance 
of the monastery to hear confessions or to preach, a demon gave to 
many of his companions the sign to enter also. The office of some of 
them was to represent his words and the perfection he was teaching as 
something nearly impossible to practice ; others would see that his words 
were heard as if by chance, without considering them or applying 
them to one s self; others would see that all the confessor said should be 
received with contempt. But, at the end, she saw that, if many and 
many more were the demons in every place tempting and trying to dis 
tract the nuns from the road to perfection, greater by far was the num 
ber of the angels whom the most compassionate God was sending to 
their help, so that, fighting with undaunted constancy, they might 
triumph. This victory generally was achieved to the great benefit of 
those souls, both through the example and the prayers of our Saint, 
and through the zeal and solicitude of the virtuous Benvenuti. 

Together with the favor of seeing the state of souls in the future life 
and things absent and to be, God granted her the gift of clearly penetrating 
hidden thoughts and secrets of the heart, which gift, on account of the 
many instances that happened, especially to the novices and the young 
ladies entrusted to her care in the monastery, was so well known and certain 
that these and even the professed nuns would examine their consciences 
before going into her presence ; and whilst before her, they would take 
the greatest care not to admit a thought for which they might have to 
blush. They could not, without trouble of mind, endure her presence 
when their conscience reproached them for even the most hidden fault. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PA2ZI. 135 

Many and wonderful were the instances proving the existence of such a 
privilege during the time she filled the various offices in Religion, as we 
shall see in the progress of this Life, limiting ourselves here to relate the 
following : 

i. To A GENTLEWOMAN, BEFORE GIVING HER A HEARING, SHE 

MANIFESTS IN DlVERS CASES WHAT WAS SECRETLY FELT BY HER. 

Elizabeth Migliorini, a Modenese gentlewoman of exemplary life, and who 
greatly loved, esteemed, and cherished the sanctity of our Magdalen, at the 
examination of witnesses for her beatification deposed as follows : A duel 
had taken place in Florence between persons who enjoyed the confidence 
of this gentlewoman and were dear to her. One of these persons was 
fatally wounded, and before he expired Elizabeth anxiously went to the 
Saint that she might obtain for the unhappy wretch time for repentance, 
and that, if it pleased God, the deed might remain unknown to the 
justice of this world. The Saint was called, and as soon as she appeared 
at the parlor grates was rapt in an ecstasy, during which, seeing in spirit 
what had occurred and the gentlewoman s object in coming to her, 
without hearing a word, suddenly spoke as follows : u Elizabeth, fear not, 
as the Blessed Virgin has covered this sin with her man-tie, and the blood 
of Jesus Christ has washed and forgiven it. Tell them (those between 
whom the quarrel had occurred) to remain in faith, charity, and humility, 
as everything is settled." Elizabeth was pleased at hearing this and 
had the satisfaction of seeing it in fact, as far as could morally be 
wished for. The wounded man, touched by real repentance, gave the 
kiss of peace to his adversary ; and, having received the sacraments and 
other consolations of the Church, died in perfect tranquillity. The duel 
remained so secret that no legal knowledge of it reached the magistrate, 
and the parties became reconciled and voluntarily extinguished every 
spark of discord. 

At another time a very ugly thing, which used to happen at a devout 
gathering of pious persons, was related in confidence to this same 
gentlewoman for her advice. The perpetrators were unknown. Eliza 
beth was not slow in going to the Saint, who, being called to the parlor 
and there becoming alienated from her senses, before she heard anything, 
began to exclaim, with a sad countenance and in a troubled voice, 
that she was seeing enormous filths and horrid things, smelling the 
intolerable stench of sin, that God would reveal all, and that she 
also (Elizabeth) would see the delinquent, and afterwards all would be 
remedied. The noble Elizabeth, being greatly amazed, gave thanks 
to God, who so profitably communicated her secrets to St. Mary Mag 
dalen, and became more and more confirmed in her opinion of the 
sanctity of this venerable mother. Shortly after, the guilty party became 
known, and a complete cure of the disorder was easily effected. 

The Pope, not as Vicar of Christ, but as a man armed with a sword, 1 
was debating some issues with the Duke of Ferrara. Elizabeth 
wished to see the end of the disputes, which were inevitably scandalous 
and harmful to society, and for this object she vowed to visit the 
miraculous Madonna di Reggio, in Lombardy. Taking counsel from 

1 Temporal ruler. The Translator* 



136 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

the Saint at the parlor grates about the fulfillment of this vow, she saw 
her in ecstasy, and heard her saying to herself: "On thy return take 
care, as the devil wishes to harm thee ; " and she added, that she should 
bring back the image of Saint Hyacinthe, to whom she was devoted, and 
also some relics. Elizabeth followed the holy counsel, and, having visited 
this Madonna, on recrossing the Alps of Bologna experienced the work 
of the devil. The horse she was riding, having broken the bridle 
through some unknown cause, began to run so wildly that every means 
to check him became of no avail, and the unhappy rider was thrown from 
the saddle and fell backward, but in such a manner as to remain with a 
foot entangled in the stirrup. Thus she was dragged by the horse for 
many yards over the uneven and stony ground, so that those who 
accompanied her expected to find her, if not dead, certainly badly 
bruised. But she did not feel hurt in the least ; for which, giving 
profuse thanks to God, she acknowledged that the means of her protec 
tion were the sanctity and counsel of Sister Mary Magdalen. 

This lady having resolved, for economic reasons, to settle perma 
nently in Modena, before quitting Florence went to the Saint to bid her 
good-bye. Having acquainted her with her intention of leaving 
Florence, Magdalen gave her this answer, as short as it was determined : 
"Thou shalt go and return." Elizabeth bowed her head like one 
resigned to a possibility, but without seeing any reason for its realiza 
tion. She left for Modena, but, after a year s absence, was recalled 
to Florence, by order of the most serene Grand Duchess of Tuscany, to 
wait on Lady Irensea Pica Salviati, sister of the Duke of Mirandola, who 
was troubled with sore eyes. Elizabeth therefore having returned, 
found that the afflicted Lady Irensea had lost one eye entirely and the 
other was so blackened and bruised that she could see nothing, and 
there was no hope of improvement. In the midst of so great an 
affliction, having consulted together, both the patient and her assistant 
remembered the efficacy of our Saint s prayers. Elizabeth went to her, 
and, filled with sentiments of wonder and veneration because of what she 
had foretold her a year before, related to the Saint what was then passing, 
and very warmly recommended to her the sad case. Magdalen answered 
thus: " Tell Lady Irensea to recommend herself to St. Francis and to 
visit the image of the most holy Annunziata. Both of you dress in 
gray for a year, out of devotion to St. Francis, and the Lord will give 
her back the sight of both eyes as formerly." On the morrow both 
of them began to follow the advice of the Saint with respectful 
confidence ; and on the same day Lady Irenaea began to improve. The 
improvement continuing day after day, in a short time her eyesight was 
restored and she enjoyed her former good health, protesting herself 
eternally obliged to the mother, Sister Mary Magdalen. 

2. SHE SEES AND MAKES KNOWN THE THOUGHTS THAT A GlRL 

WAS HIDING WITH REGARD To HER VOCATION. A very marvelous 
thing of this kind was that which happened to a daughter of Dr. Car- 
lini, of Florence Leonora, by name. In November of 1591 this young 
lady entered the monastery of St. Maria degli Angeli with apparent 
curiosity, intending to remain there for a certain time, if pleased with it. 
It is true, she wished to become -a nun, and that was the real motive for 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 137 

her entering ; but she neither said it then nor had she ever yet manifested 
to anyone this tendency. In the meantime, it happened that, on the very 
first evening after entering, whilst in the company of Sister Mary Magda 
len and several other nnns, the Saint was rapt in ecstasy, and in that state 
began to speak, saying that she had seen the guardian angel of Leonora, 
holding in his hands a ladder, the top of which reached heaven, but 
he kept it in suspense, as if not knowing where to rest it; and, as she 
was thus looking at this angel, she saw at his side St. Francis, St. 
Dominic, and St. Angelo the Carmelite, conferring and almost disputing 
among themselves as to the spot whereon the angel was to lean the lad 
der, each one of them wishing him to lean it upon his own Religious 
Order. The Saint, admiring so amiable and pleasant a dispute, and feel 
ing inclined to see the victory on the side of St. Angelo, as the patron 
of her own Order, heard that the Lord Jesus Christ commanded the 
guardian angel of Leonora to rest the ladder on the monastery of St. 
Maria degli Angeli in Florence ; therefore, turning to the maid, she 
frankly spoke to her: " Thy guardian angel has rested the ladder on this 
monastery ; it is the will of God that thou become a nun here, and thou 
wilt overcome all the difficulties thou wilt encounter." Leonora, con 
fronted with so precise a declaration of God s will, and finding her 
thoughts so marvelously unraveled, fixed on this monastery and nowhere 
else the vague idea of becoming a nun. After a ten-days retreat in the 
same, she returned to the paternal residence, where for the first time she 
ingenuously made known her new resolution. This was so much opposed 
by her father and brothers that, on an evening of the following January, 
she thought of relenting and going without delay to her father to attest 
her submission to him and to place herself entirely in his hands. But at 
the moment of passing out of her room with such a thought, she felt 
herself pushed back by an invisible force. This happened again the 
second and third time that she made the attempt ; so that, acknowledg 
ing this as a supernatural opposition, she was more and more confirmed 
in her intention of becoming a nun, despite all human hindrances. On 
this same evening, and at the same hour, which was one hour after dark, 
the mother, Sister Mary Magdalen, alienated from her senses, pronounced 
these words: "That dove wants to fly; keep her, O Lord;" and three 
times she repeated : " Keep her, O Lord." Having returned to her senses, 
and being questioned by the usual superioresses, she related that she 
had seen this young lady, under the form of a dove, about to leave her 
vocation; but that God had so assisted her that this would not happen. 
On the following day the nuns sent for the girl, in order to find out what 
had happened to her the evening previous. When she reached the par 
lor, she told what has been related above, and the nuns in turn informed 
her of the contemporaneous vision of Sister Mary Magdalen. Leonora 
was most grateful to God for this coincidence and the mediation of the 
Saint, and she corresponded so faithfully to the divine call, that by 
means of virtuous acts she succeeded in obtaining the permission of 
her father and brothers, and in a short time she became a Carmelite 
nun in the monastery of St. Maria degli Angeli. 

3. SHE ENJOYS A DISTINCT VISION AT THE TlME THAT A GlRL 
RECEIVES THE RELIGIOUS HABIT. Whilst Mass was being sung for the 



138 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

taking of the religious habit by a girl, the venerable Magdalen, being 
rapt in ecstasy, saw the Lord granting this girl many gifts and graces. 
At every Kyrie eleison a choir of angels descended. At the epistle God 
confirmed all the graces to the Religious which had been communicated 
to them in the beginning, and even increased them. At the gospel the 
Lord gave many rich ornaments to her who was about to receive the 
sacred habit ; afterwards she saw a cherub with a book in his hands, 
who, whilst the novice was singing "/ am the handmaid of the Lord^ 
wrote in it these same words and those which she uttered at the end of 
the ceremony. This, she understood, was done by the angels with all 
the Religious, in order to show to them, on the day of judgment, to their 
greater joy or confusion, all that was implied in an act so solemn and 
important. No sooner had this girl taken the habit, than another angel 
of the choir of the seraphim appeared, holding in his hands the Life 
Record of the Religious. This angel reading, related to the Saint all 
the good this girl had done till that hour, her wish to enter in Religion 
and become the bride of Jesus, and all her good thoughts, wishes, and 
affections ; then he wrote down the good works and the profit she was to 
make in the religious life. Finally, in capital letters, he marked the 
book with the name taken by the novice in this new baptism. Magda 
len, having been for a while silent, with a full understanding of the 
interior dispositions of the soul of this young lady, recommended to 
God all the Religious, and sinners, and then caine out of the ecstasy. 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



139 







CHAPTER XXIII. 




OF THE GREAT PURITY OF HEART AND DELICACY OF CONSCIENCE 
OF ST. MARY MAGDALEN. 



]PTER relating the wonderful favors which God granted this 
holy soul, it is befitting to show with what candor and 
purity her heart was enriched. It is only reasonable to 
believe that God does not so intimately communicate Him 
self except to lilies of immaculate purity and real sanctity. 
During her whole life Magdalen gave evident proofs of the 
candor and innocence of her habits and affections. One 
day she was speaking to a sister of the pleasure and delight 
with which she used to embrace and hold to her bosom the little chil 
dren of her tenantry, whom she had instructed in the Christian doctrine, 
when, while yet a girl, she had visited the villa. The sister, as if jesting, 
or out of curiosity to hear what answer the Saint would give her, said 
to her: "Mother, it may have been a fault to have taken so much delight 
in so doing. " At which the good mother, overcome by a holy fear of 
having offended God therein, asked the sister to tell her frankly of what 
fault she deemed her guilty. The sister replied: "It depends on the 
intention thou hadst in it." And then Magdalen, with as much humility 
as frankness, answered: For no other reason did I delight in those 
little children than because they represented to me Jesus at that age, and 
also because of the purity and innocence which is found in them." 

So great was the simplicity, the candor, the humility, the meekness, 
the sincerity, and the frankness of her words and of her works, and 
especially the humble and pure faith Magdalen always had, that of a truth 
a child could not have had more. These dispositions, instead of diminish 
ing, rather increased and became perfect in her as she advanced in years ; 
so that, in her old age and in the maturity of her excellent virtues, her life 
was an exemplification of the blessed childhood promised of old to the 
Church of Christ by Isaias the prophet, and commended by our Divine 
Saviour even to the oldest of His followers ; and without which, He 
asserts, no one can have a place in His heavenly kingdom. Magdalen 
never had a strong earthly affection, nor hatred, nor rancor, nor love of 
worldly goods. She always believed everyone, as a child does, even without 
understanding, and she never contradicted anybody. Her conversation, 
moved by simplicity coupled with prudence, could not but render her 



140 THE UFF y AND WORKS OF 

more amiable and estimable every day. Her actions were never over 
shadowed by a secondary or worldly end. Sometimes she was heard to 
say: "If I thought that I might become a shining seraph by speaking 
a single word with any other purpose than the love of God, even though 
He would not be offended by it, I would not utter it." What a sublime 
sentiment of purity ! And if it occasionally happened that in some of her 
actions she doubted the purity of the end, she interrupted the work, leav 
ing it unfinished until she became certain of having directed it also to the 
glory of God, as she intended and wished to do absolutely. She was so 
well used to this rectitude of intention that she could not understand how 
any gesture, motion, or even raising of the eyes of those souls who con 
secrate themselves to God, was not exclusively directed towards exalted and 
divine purity. She loved no creature except in its relation to God. Those 
who knew her and conversed with her gave solemn testimony of it; and 
she herself, in her last years, whilst familiarly conversing with the sis 
ters, said that, though she had borne much affection to creatures, yet she 
had loved them only because of the precept of charity given by Jesus 
Christ, and in order to imitate His example of unbounded charity; but 
that, with the exception of this love, she never had the least attachment 
to any creature. During her last illness she also said, with a great sense 
of gratitude to God, that she did not recollect that her heart ever had 
taken any pleasure or delight, even for the shortest space of time, except 
in God ; and she added, when near the end of her life, that she found 
nothing in herself that gave her more peace and comfort than this. From 
which we may not only conjecture, but argue with certainty, that this 
holy soul preserved till death the white robe of baptismal innocence; 
nay, to give her words their just meaning, it seems that it could also be 
said that her purity was more angelic than human as to the angels 
alone is given by nature what to her was granted by grace, viz. , never 
to take any delight but in God. This, in a human creature endowed 
with senses, is so wonderful that to our understanding, with some 
reason, it appears incredible; but it was not so to those who lived with 
her and saw in fact the continuous absorption of her mind in God. It 
was in consequence of such great purity of heart that she perceived the 
least stain and spot of imperfection in her soul, and kept the strictest 
account of it; hence, she humbled and accused herself of things in 
which the other sisters could see no shadow of imperfection; and they 
remained struck with amazement and confusion at seeing that, amidst 
the sublime acts of perfection which she constantly practiced, she would 
find things of which to accuse herself, and to punish herself for. She 
sometimes even judged her virtuous actions to be faults not through 
that sentiment of scrupulosity which proceeds from pride, as is wont to 
be found in those persons who follow piety more from ostentation and 
self-love than to please God but in consequence of her great purity and 
humility combined, because of which her heart, placed like a highly 
polished mirror before the rays of the Divine Sun, regarded itself as 
dimmed by even the least earthly breath. 

On the evening of the 6th of April of the year 1592, having placed 
herself on her knees in the most humble attitude, in order to examine 
her conscience about the actions of that day, she was rapt in an 




By licking the arm of a nun, she heals her of a contagious sore 

(page 98). 



140 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 141 

ecstasy, in which, having first recited the psalms, " Domine, quid 
multiplicati sunt" "Why, O Lord, are they multiplied," etc. (Ps. iii); 
and "g/ habitat," etc. " He that dwelleth (Ps. xc), she thus 
spoke to her Jesus: "O my Jesus, what was the first thought 
I had on this day? I grieve because it was not of Thee, as I 
was afraid lest it would be late to call Thy brides to praise Thee ; 
nor did I think of offering myself to Thee or honoring Thee. 
Then, O my Jesus, I went to the choir to offer myself to Thee ; 
but I did not wholly and in everything resign myself to Thy will. O 
most benign God, what mercy can I expect from Thee, as I did not 
place myself entirely in Thy hands? Have mercy on me, O Lord, 
though I do not deserve it ; as I rather deserve a thousand hells. When 
I went to recite Thy praises, I took more pains about those sisters I saw 
wanting in something while performing this duty and making the 
necessary inclinations than I did to honor Thee and offer to Thee my 
praises in union with those of the blessed spirits. Well may I ask for 
Thy mercy, O great God, as in what belongs to Thee, which is Thy 
praise, I was guilty of so many imperfections. When I came to receive 
Thy Body and Blood, which I should have done with all possible 
affection, I grieve that I had no intention of doing it in memory of Thy 
passion, as Thou commandedst ; and I did not think of uniting my soul 
with Thee, either ; but I thought of how I could give rest to my heart. 
It is true that I first heard the Divine Word, but I thought more of 
whether we acted as Thou madest Thy Christ tell us, than about the 
love Thou borest to me. Hence, O my Lord, I can ask nothing but 
mercy of Thee. When I went to receive Thy blood in the sacrament 
of penance, I thought more of what I had to say to Thy Christ in order 
to quiet my heart, than of the benefit Thou wert conferring on me by 
washing my soul in Thy blood ; and I did not trust in Thy love to give 
me grace that would put my heart to rest. O my Lord, what were the 
words I uttered? They were of censure (she says this, because being a 
mistress of novices, she had accused herself of having reprehended a 
novice) ; " and my way of speaking, which was not very meek and gentle, 
caused -her who heard me to be disturbed ; and, what is worse, I failed 
in charity, for when I saw that her heart was disturbed, I did not try to 
quiet it, so that, but for this it would unite with Thee. Behold, O my 
Lord, what I derive from so great a union and so much light which 
Thou givest me ; if Thou wouldst give some of it to another creature, 
she would be much more grateful to Thee ; whilst I, miserable and un 
happy one, do not derive any fruit therefrom, as I fail in charity towards 
Thy brides. Forgive me because of Thy passion. And then, when I 
went to speak to that creature " (she meant an aunt of hers, to meet whom 
she went to the parlor grates, and there was rapt in ecstasy), " I regret that 
I committed an act of great hypocrisy, by causing myself to appear what 
I am not ; and though I beckoned to Thy creatures, I did not merit to 
be understood by them " (she alluded to the instruction she had given 
to the sisters, viz., that when they would notice that she was about to 
remain ecstatic at the grates, they should remove her, lest she might be 
seen by outside persons, and for this purpose she had given a sign) ; 
"as I appeared to keep my soul united with Thee ; and yet Thou knowest 



142 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

how many times my mind wandered away from Thee ; I appeared to be a 
true Religious, and yet Thou knowest what I am. I ask mercy of Thee, O 
my God, for this great hypocrisy, and I offer to Thee Thy blood which 
Thou hast shed for me with so much love. If Thou, O my Lord, sendest 
my soul to hell, as I deserve, Thou wilt justly place me below Judas, 
because I have so much offended Thee. I then went to give the necessary 
food to my body; but what intention had I of honoring Thee? as I did 
not remember to offer up to Thee many and many poor people, who, 
perhaps, had long been knocking at doors to find a morsel of bread, 
which, perhaps, had not been given them ; whilst the monastery, without 
any work on my part, and, what is worse, without any merit, furnishes 
me, wretched and miserable, with what I need to sustain my body. 
Not only did I offer this offense to Thee, but also the other one when I 
made Thy bride say so many words ; and yet I knew it was not lawful to 
speak in that place. Behold, O my Lord, that in all my doings I find 
I have offended Thee. How then shall I be able to appear before Thee 
to ask of Thee gifts and graces, and recommend Thy creatures to Thee, 
since I have so greatly offended Thee that I do not deserve that Thou 
shouldst show mercy to me ? But may the love which moved Thee to 
come down to the earth and shed Thy blood, move Thee also to show r 
mercy to my soul. Afterwards, when I did not go to praise Thee, 
together with the rest of Thy brides, it was my fault alone ; for, when 
that soul asked me not to go, I consented immediately not to go. O my 
Jesus, had she requested me to stay for some charitable act, I would not 
so soon have answered Yes. O my Lord, how can I hope to get to that 
place where I shall have to praise Thee with the blessed spirits, having 
failed to praise Thee in the company of Thy brides ? I offer to Thee 
Thy blood, that through it Thou mayest be merciful to me. Also in that 
action which I performed, what intention had I of honoring Thee, O my 
Lord, since I regretted more the time taken away from me in giving 
than having failed to offer my soul to Thee?" (she meant the time 
during which the Lord kept her alienated from her senses). " It is true 
I made a sign to Thy little virgins to keep silence, but I did not con 
sider how much more obliged was I to keep my soul united to Thee. 
And when I was about to invoke the Holy Ghost, my mind was so far 
from Thee that I did not remember the manner in which I was to do it ; 
so that those who had been less time in Religion had more prudence than 
myself. See, O my Jesus, how in all my actions I have failed ; how then 
can I appear before Thy Goodness, having so often offended Thee ? Again 
I offer to Thee Thy blood, as through it only do I hope for pardon. Greatly 
did I fail, O God, when I had to perform the other action, in not enduring 
a little fatigue by moving faster. I failed, I say, in what I was obliged to 
do, asking others to do me the charity ; in the meantime I failed to do 
it to my soul. I took more care not to fatigue myself a little than I 
did that Thou shouldst not withdraw from me. In all my actions I find 
faults, O my God. But Thou, overlooking so many offenses, by Thy 
Goodness alone again didst draw me to Thyself and gavest me therein so 
much light, that, if Thou hadst given it to another soul, she certainly 
would have drawn therefrom more fruit than myself, miserable creature 
that I am. Again did I give comfort to my body by means of some food ; 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 143 

and likewise I did not recollect so many of the poor who have nothing 
wherewith to feed themselves, whilst for me, O my Lord, Thou hast so 
amply provided. I offer to Thee, again, Thy blood for so many offenses 
which I have offered to Thee. Alas ! my Lord, we are in darkness, and 
I have not performed a single work without offending Thee. What 
then shall I do ? O my God, I have offended Thee so much on this day ; 
I will hot offer to Thee the final offense, which would be not to trust in 
Thee and in Thy mercy. Well do I know, O Lord, that I do not 
deserve forgiveness ; but the blood Thou hast shed for me will make me so 
hope in Thee that Thou wilt have to forgive me." At this point of her 
self-examination, being still in ecstasy, she withdrew to a remote cell, 
where with merciless disciplining she tore her innocent flesh, in punish 
ment of these light and almost unavoidable faults. Such examination, 
besides furnishing an eminent proof of the more than hurnan purity of 
her heart, should cause confusion not only to those souls that swim in 
iniquity as in water and sleep tranquilly in the filth of every intemper 
ance, but also to those who, whilst professing a devout and religious life, 
regard venial sins as nothing, and but hastily examine their conscience. 
Moreover, we have in her life another proof of how she regarded even 
the slightest fault. This was, that, living continually in fear of offend 
ing God, and fearful, therefore, in all works of offending Him, as she 
was one day absorbed in this thought, she was overtaken by such an 
excessive and devout affection that she fell to the ground before an image 
of the Virgin, and there remained in ecstasy for the space of two hours, 
during which time our Lord permitted her to see all the sins and faults 
she had committed during her lifetime. At such a sight, though all 
were of trifling account, she burst into a copious shower of tears, and 
with a tremulous voice uttered these words : "Willingly would I go to 
hell, could I but be sure that I never had offended Thee, O my God." 
Having such a pure soul, the least stain appeared horrible to her, and, 
on account of the love she bore to God, she considered as deserving of 
hell the least offense offered to Him. 

A strong proof of this great purity of heart was also the love she 
always manifested for it, both in words and actions. The nuns remarked 
that when Sister Mary Magdalen had occasion to go down to the parlor 
grates, if little children were there, she rested her eyes on them, and 
never was satiated with looking at them ; and she spoke to them 
evidently with great pleasure, calling them blessed, because they had 
never offended God, and wishing them to maintain themselves always 
pure and innocent. On arriving among the sisters, if it should so hap 
pen that they would be speaking of purity of soul, she would gladly 
say : " In this place I shall be pleased to remain, because here they 
speak of purity. 7 And she would then begin to speak of it with so 
much fervor that she greatly inflamed the hearts of the sisters with the 
desire to acquire and practice this virtue. In an ecstasy she had in rela 
tion to the mystery of the Incarnation, she thus expressed herself: 
" Purity is so great and incomparable a thing that a creature is not capa 
ble of it, nor can she understand it." And, exclaiming, she added : " O 
unutterable purity, how clean and pure one must be to receive Thee ! 
O Word, how dost Thou regard our affections and purposes before they 



144 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

unite with that spirit of purity ! And those worldly and sensual people, 
after all, with their filthy sensuality and malice, think of reaching this 
divine and most pure spirit. They are in greater error than the devil 
was when he wanted to make himself equal to God." At other 
times she would say : " O purity, how many wonders thou dost reveal to 
us in the other life, which are utterly hidden to creatures not to those, 
though, who seek for thee ! For in that life those persons who had seem 
ingly been very exemplary in this world, shall be seen to be inferior to 
many whom to simply name would make the others smile ; but because 
they were rich in this most precious treasure, and the others most want 
ing in it, the I^ord will magnify the former, and lower the latter." She 
also frequently said : 4 At purity- weight, O my sisters, God wants to 
reward us in the next life." On reflecting in how little esteem this 
virtue is held by the world, she was wont to say, with deep sorrow : " O 
purity, O purity, little known and little desired ! O my Spouse, O my 
Spouse ! now that Thou art in heaven in Thy humanity, sitting at the 
right hand of the Eternal Father, cor mundum crca in me, Deus^ 
1 Create a clean heart in me, O Lord " (Ps. 1, 12). Sometimes whilst 
with the sisters, she would say, sighing : " We fail to work with purity." 
Being asked by a nun how one could acquire this virtue, she answered : 
"If in everything thou wilt seek not to follow thy own will, choosing 
rather to suffer than to enjoy thyself, thou wilt at the end find that thou 
didst work with purity, because in truth our own interests have nothing 
to do with it ; hence the road of suffering is safe and very dear to His 
Divine Majesty." Finally she was so much in love with and thirsty for 
this virtue, that she asserted that, as far as she was concerned, she would 
be satisfied if she would remain in the lowest degree as to all other 
virtues ; but as to purity of mind and body she aspired to the highest, 
and to as much as a human creature may acquire. Hence she felt a 
corresponding hatred and abhorrence for sin ; so that at the mere name of 
mortal sin she shivered from head to foot, and, transported by the most 
ardent zeal, at times she would loudly utter against it words express 
ing abomination, sorrow, and horrible amazement. She apprehended 
its gravity and enormity to such an extent that she could not conceive 
it possible that a Christian could be found so wicked as to offend God 
with deliberate intention. Fifteen days before her death she thus mani 
fested her ideas on this point : " I leave this world with this one inability 
viz., to understand how a human creature can consent and determine 
to commit mortal sin against her Creator." Hence, seeing the useless- 
ness of her wish, viz., to be able to blot out every sin from the world, 
she grieved exceedingly, and incessantly shed tears of the greatest 
bitterness, both for the offenses which were offered to the Divine Good 
ness and for the unhappy fate of those who committed them and never 
thought of weeping for them. 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



145 




F<g>={t^;=<>=S=^i=^>^t^^ 



CHAPTER XXIV. 




OF HER SINGULAR GIFT OF PRAYER AND HER INTIMATE 
UNION WITH GOD. 



would be useless to remark the assiduity of Magdalen in the 
exercise of prayer ; as, besides the hours allotted to it by the 
rule, which she scrupulously kept, she was nearly always, by 
an uninterrupted act, so united with God that her life might 
be styled a continuous prayer, so strongly and with so much 
delight did God occupy her heart and fill her with the desire 
for Himself! The actual delight of her mind could be 
noticed by her abstraction from the senses and the abandon 
ment of the inferior parts by the spirit. In all her actions, either of 
labor or recreation, she was with God ; and not only was she rapt in 
most happy ecstasies whilst in prayer, penetrating then deeply into 
the contemplation of the divine attributes, but also in every act and 
thought of hers, and even in every action she saw others performing ; as 
the attraction of the known beauty and goodness of God cannot be 
intercepted or distracted from a soul that is taken up with it. There 
was no place in the monastery in which she did not enjoy such a divine 
favor; in the choir, in her cell, in the refectory, in the hall, in the vege 
table-garden, and at all times, the Spirit of God attracted her to Himself 
in sweet union sometimes even in the act of her giving to her body 
the necessary nourishment. We have already seen how several times 
she was rapt in ecstasy at times and in places when her will would have 
preferred to have been otherwise ; hence, on account of the frequency of 
such ecstasies, in which she spent the greatest part of her life in Religion, 
and on account of their evident superiority over her senses, it can be 
asserted with strict regard for truth that not only had she her mind fixed 
on God during the time of the ecstasy, but also outside of it, and in a 
very intimate manner ; for, it being an inflexible rule of human logic 
that it is impossible to reach from one to another extremity without 
passing through the intermediate space, likewise one cannot from the* 
distraction and vanity of certain thoughts suddenly reach an ecstatic 
contemplation. It is necessary first to remove the distraction, and turn 
the mind to the good thought, reflect on the same, and, by means of 
intellectual reasoning, move the affection so that this may by degrees 
come nearer to God, until such a depth of penetration be reached that 
all the powers of the soul are carried along. 



146 "THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

Now if St. Mary Magdalen was so easily rapt in God in every place, 
at all times, and on every occasion she had of seeing, hearing, or speak 
ing, not only can no one deny that her mind was free from all vain and 
earthly thoughts, but it must be asserted that she was so united with God 
as to be in a continuous and proximate disposition of ecstasy ; as, in 
fact, every slight increase of spiritual affection used to carry her out of 
her senses. Moreover, she herself related that the Lord several times 
assured her that she would enjoy the same spiritual union with Him 
in her normal state as when in ecstasy, with the single exception that in 
the former there would be no visible effect. To this fact all her com 
panions in the monastery bore testimony, for, remarking in amazement 
her extraordinary mode of action, they used to notice her at her exterior 
occupations with such an abstraction of spirit that she appeared to act 
mechanically and as if her mind and heart never descended to percepti 
ble things ; though, as we have repeatedly said, she was always ready 
and accurate with her will to accomplish everything in the line of her 
duties. Noticing that the nuns thought more of the sentiments she 
expressed during the state of ecstasy than of those uttered while out of 
it, she said to them : " Hold in the like esteem what I tell you out of the 
ecstasies; for God gives me the same light and union. " Thus she ex 
pressed herself, not out of vainglory, but because she was inspired by 
the light of truth for the advantage of souls. In various ways did the 
nuns notice the absorption of her mind in God. Being suddenly asked by 
the mother prioress, and while she was a young novice by the teachers, 
about her thoughts and interior operations, she, always most prompt 
and instantaneous in her answer, manifested with sincerity and ingenu 
ousness her interior movements. They always found her occupied about 
God; sometimes offering to Him her actions for His glory, uniting them 
to those which the Word Incarnate had performed on earth ; sometimes 
thinking of the love God had shown to man ; sometimes enjoying 
herself in the meditation of the divine perfections or the communica 
tion which God makes of Himself and His attributes to creatures ; now 
she offered up the blood of Jesus for the salvation of mankind, now she 
busied herself with the desire to labor for souls or to suffer for the 
glory of God ; and then, again, she would dwell on some mystery of 
Christ s passion, or she would have other similar thoughts; but all 
would be virtuous and supernatural. 

That no exterior occupation was an obstacle to such heavenly com 
munication, she confidentially made known one day to one of her novices. 
" It is the same to me if I am told to go and pray in the choir or to 
do any manual work, it makes no difference to me in the least ; nay, if 
I told thee that sometimes I find God more in the latter than in the 
former, I would think I told thee the truth." 

In the refectory, at the community meals, she used to act as follows: 
It was the custom of the monastery to interpose three short stops during 
the reading at table. During these Magdalen performed some acts which 
manifested her mind s devotion. At the first stop she kept her hands 
joined ; at the second, she separated them and rested them on the table ; 
at the third, she crossed them. The nuns being anxious to receive an 
explanation of these movements, she, in virtue of obedience, declared 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 147 

that at the first she adored Jesus to reverence the honor which His most 
holy humanity paid to His Divinity before commencing to take the food 
of His labors, viz. , to work for the salvation of souls ; and to reverence that 
adoration which the Virgin Mary offered when she saw Him born in the 
stable and placed in the manger ; hence she joined her hands in an act of 
adoration. At the second stop she thought how pleased Jesus was, when 
preaching, in giving to His own soul as food the redemption of our 
souls, as this was His food ; hence she rested her hands on the table. At 
the third stop she reflected how Jesus on the wood of the cross, having 
accomplished the work of human salvation, was like one who, being 
satiated, wishes for no other food ; He was satisfied with the food of our 
souls and our salvation, and even if He had created new worlds and 
made an infinite number of other wonderful works, in none would He 
have been so pleased and delighted as in the human redemption accom 
plished by Him; hence at this stop she kept her hands crossed. One 
would never be done if he attempted to describe all the mystic thoughts 
that were gathered from the works and words of Sister Mary Magdalen, 
and which gave undoubted testimony of her constant union of mind 
with God. SufHce it to say here, as a seal, that even while asleep she 
was often heard to utter words of eternal life ; so much was she 
habituated to think of heavenly things. 

Though nothing needs be added now to judge with how much per 
fection she fulfilled the precept of St. Paul : " Sine intermissione orate" 
"Pray without ceasing" (i Thess. v, 17). Yet some very excellent 
particulars of this exercise are worthy of being mentioned ; among which 
are the great esteem in which prayer was held by her, and her invariable 
perseverance in it. Having adopted some devotions, she would con 
tinue in them, though her exterior and vocal prayers were very few, 
as she was chiefly occupied in interior and mental prayer; and, unless 
prevented by obedience or some necessary occupation of charity, she 
never let the time appointed by her for such exercise pass by without 
it. She was wont to spend many hours of the day and night on her 
knees ; which practice she always faithfully kept. Neither tediousness, 
nor aridity, nor temptation could ever keep her from her usual 
prayers. Her soul, unless prevented by the needs of this life and 
the obligations of the community, would gladly have made but one 
prayer of the entire course of her mortal pilgrimage, joining nights to 
days, and these again to nights, as she not seldom did, especially during 
the years of her novitiate. These prayers she engaged in with so much 
affection and reverence towards God that, though not in ecstasy, she 
always appeared immovable and deprived of bodily sensibility. Very 
short was the rest she took; ordinarily it was not over five hours a night, 
spending the remainder in prayer ; but often she did not even take these 
hours, as she either spent them all in praying or only obtained some sleep 
on a chair or when kneeling with her head resting against it. If in the 
night, by an occupation of obedience or charity, some hours were taken 
from her, rather than rest, she devoted the remaining hours to prayer ; 
as she preferred that the body should suffer for want of necessaries 
rather than that her soul should be deprived of its spiritual nourish 
ment, Oh ! how many times her mistresses during the time of her novi- 



148 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

tiate, and her novices and young girls when she was their mistress, think 
ing she was taking her rest, heard her, sitting up and sometimes in 
the chapel, weeping, sighing, and praying. If the conversion of sin 
ners was recommended to her ; if important business concerning the 
honor of God and the salvation of souls or the welfare of the Reli 
gious was at stake ; if any novice was to profess or receive the habit in 
the monastery ; or if any other circumstance required for herself or her 
neighbor more than the ordinary Divine help, she deprived herself of all 
rest, and spent the whole night in offering up prayers to God and 
afflicting her soul in order to obtain opportune assistance from the 
Divine Mercy. Many a time in her life Magdalen made the spiritual 
exercises according to the golden rule left in writing by St. Ignatius 
Loyola. With the permission of the superioress and her confessor, she 
would during those days withdraw from all human intercourse, and 
pass them entirely in profound contemplation. But what she always 
held in greater esteem than every other devotion was the recital of the 
divine office, and especially in the choir. She thought, and rightly too, 
that no other exercise brought us nearer to the angels than this. Hence, 
no sooner did she hear the sign for it, than she would rejoice and, leaving 
unfinished whatever work at which she might be occupied, she ran to 
the recitation of it with happy solicitude. Even while sick, she used to 
make every effort to go to the choir ; and, as long as it was physically 
possible for her, she never failed to attend the diurnal hours, and even 
matin at night. When she actually felt herself nailed to her bed, she 
there recited the office in company with some sister, making up for 
not being in the choir with so much gravity and devotion that she 
seemed to be an angel burning with divine fire. If sometimes, on 
account of the various offices she filled in Religion, at the time of some 
canonical hour she was necessarily detained out of the choir, there also 
she wanted a companion to recite that part of the office omitted, giving 
her reason therefor in these humble words : " I have little spirit, and in 
saying the office with a companion I become a partaker in her fervor 
and devotion." Those divine sentiments contained particularly in the 
psalms, being by her understood and relished in the highest degree, often 
transported her into ecstasy both at the common and at private recita 
tion ; and always, of course, she was ablaze interiorly, showing it in the 
vivid reddening of her face, and very often her heart was throbbing so 
hard that it seemed as if she could not keep it within her breast. But 
at the moment of the Gloria Patri even stranger effects would appear in 
her person ; bowing the head, she would turn pale, tremble, and was 
barely able to utter the words. One morning, the companion who was 
reading matins privately with her noticed in her such an extraordinary 
change at the above action, that seeing her heaving and unusually short 
breathing, she could not but immediately stop and ask her the reason 
for this manifest suffering, upon which the Saint made a motion sig 
nifying to be patient ; and, the matins being ended, made this declara 
tion. She said it was her devout custom, on pronouncing the Gloria 
Patri, to make an offering of herself to martyrdom for the glory of 
God ; and, being then more than usually recollected in it, it seemed to 
her as if she were in effect offering her head to the executioner ; hence 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 149 

nature, frightened by the dread of such, apprehension, had caused her 
suffering. Therefore, in order to satisfy the obligation, she was com 
pelled to moderate and slacken the intensity of her interior acts, that 
they might not sink too deeply in the knowledge of things divine, caus 
ing her to be alienated from her senses and thus preventing her fulfill 
ing her daily duty. O singular gift! acquired, though, and possessed 
through the habit formed from her very childhood of keeping her mind 
fixed on God by means of assiduous and fervent prayer. 

One year, on the feast of the Ascension of our L,ord, Magdalen, 
being seated at the common table of the refectory, and fixing her 
thoughts on how she should prepare for the solemnity of the Holy 
Ghost, which she always longed for and celebrated with particular devo 
tion, was drawn in spirit out of her senses, and in that state manifested 
her affections and deliberations as follows : u O holy Apostles, when the 
Lord ascended into heaven, He taught you what you were to do in order 
to receive the Holy Spirit. Do you now teach me. O pure John, O 
loving Philip, do not refuse me your assistance. Tell me what must be 
my Cenacle, what my interior and exterior operations, and what the 
elevations of mind during these few days. It will be well to construct 
the Cenacle on high, that is, in the side of the Word, to dwell therein 
in a union of love. Tell me what my food and spiritual beverage must 
be. I wish it extremely pleasant and wholesome. The consideration 
of the great and of the most humble operations performed by the Incarnate 
Word while on earth will be my food, and the beverage will be the blood 
which comes out of those four sacred fountains of His adorable hands and 
feet ; and sometimes I may go to that fountain which has so many rivulets 
that of His venerable head. O loving Word ! thirty-three years Thou 
didst remain with us, and I must perform thirty-three acts of annihila 
tion between the day and the night, and this will be one of the interior 
operations. Eight days Thou didst wait to give us Thy blood after 
Thy birth ; and I must examine my conscience eight times between the 
day and the night ; as, unless the soul be well searched into and purified 
of her faults, she is not apt to give her blood for Thee, viz., to offer her 
self to Thee in the act of martyrdom ; and whenever I go through my 
examination of conscience, I will add thereto the renewal of the religious 
vows. Forty days Thou didst remain on earth after arising from the 
dead ; and I must, between the day and the night raise my mind to Thee 
forty times. Seven years Thou didst remain in Egypt ; and I must, be 
tween the day and the night, recommend to Thee seven times those who 
lie in the darkness of sin. Forty days Thou didst wait after Thy birth 
before being offered in the temple ; and I must, between day and night, 
offer myself to Thee forty times in readiness to Thy holy will. The 
spiritual nourishment will be the daily meditation on Thy most holy 
passion, accompanying it with the meditation on that ardent love with 
which Thou becamest incarnate ; on that humility with which Thou 
didst converse ; on that meekness with which Thou didst preach ; on that 
cheerfulness with which Thou didst grant the prayer of the woman of 
Canaan and the Samaritan ; the latter did not ask Thee, but Thou didst 
invite her to ask. I will also meditate on these words : Hie est Filiiis 
meus dilcctuS) in quo mihi bene complacui - * This is my beloved Son, in 



150 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

whom I am well pleased (Matt, iii, 17). . . . ^Cibus meus est ut facia tn 
voluntatem Patris mei^ My meat is to do the will of Him that sent 
Me (my Father s) (John, iv, 34). . . . Discite a me quia mitis sum ct 
humilis corde" " L,earn of Me, because I am meek and humble of 
heart" (Matt, xi, 29). Twelve years Thou didst live on earth before 
giving any sign of Thy wisdom ; twelve interior acts of love for 
my neighbor must I perform, and ten of humility, likewise interior. 
Oh ! how many opportunities for these interior acts offer themselves to 
us, how many inducements for the intellect and the will ! Seven times 
must I adore the Most Blessed Sacrament for those who fail to adore 
Him ; seven times must I adore my Christ, who carries the cross with 
His head bent for all the elect. Three times must I give particular praise 
to the Blessed Virgin, as Mother and Protectress of all religious souls, that 
she may cooperate particularly with her assistance in the keeping of 
the three vows of Religion. As often as I shall be able, I must perform 
acts of charity for my neighbor, with all possible love and cheerfulness of 
soul. I will always remain in the act of guarding my senses ; and 
in order not to be regarded as singular, I must do this at hours, at times, 
and in proper ways ; for, if I should never take notice, some nun might 
think that I am angry with her ; and if I should not answer questions, 
I would give occasion for suspicion. Thrice a day I will remind 
the sisters with whom I am conversing, of the dignity of the vocation 
to which we are called, saying something in praise of it ; and of this 
vocation I will remind myself continually. Whenever the opportunity 
offers itself, I will console the afflicted, both interiorly and exteriorly ; 
and, in conclusion, I must remain in a continuous act of charity, and 
guard my heart." With these ideas and desires of interior and exterior 
operations she came out of her ecstasy, and endeavored to do all very 
punctually in order to prepare herself to receive the Holy Ghost. From 
which we infer that the interior, positive acts of devotion and virtue 
she performed during these ten days were one hundred and seventy-eight 
each day, not counting other devout considerations of the love, humility, 
and meekness of Jesus, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and 
the unceasing watchfulness over her heart which she had previously 
imposed on herself. Let the reader here reflect and consider what soul 
clothed in mortal flesh could in a single day perform such and so many 
interior acts of virtue, except one that had been raised to so divine a 
union as would befit more an angelic than a human creature. The 
soul of Magdalen communed with God so closely that nothing but 
God could she see in every object, in every place, and at all times, and 
she was simply led by God Himself. 

We have already seen in Chapter XII the mode of life which had 
been celestially prescribed for her. Now it is opportune to relate the 
twenty Rules of life she received from the L,ord after that time, and after 
wards, on account of her faithful correspondence, the spiritual exercises, 
the offerings and protestations of every day ; which again very strongly 
prove how intimately her soul was united to God. One morning as she 
was absorbed in the love and gratitude of her Jesus in the sacrament just 
received, she heard Him call her three times, as follows : " Come, O my 
spouse, as I am He who extracted thee from My mind and placed thee 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZt. 15! 

in the maternal womb, wherein I have been pleased in thee." At such 
a sensible and distinct invitation, she immediately stood up, and, with a 
countenance very much inflamed, she moved around to seek Jesus 
through the monastery. Having gone a short distance towards the 
lower corridor, she heard for the second time : Come, as I am He who 
extracted thee from the maternal womb, and united Myself to thee, 
being pleased in thee !" And, on her redoubling her zeal, she grew 
impatient to find the wished-for Bridegroom. She ran through several 
rooms in a manner both uncertain and rapid ; and, when about entering 
the chapter, she heard for the third time : " Come, my chosen one ; I 
wish to give thee a Rule and put an end to thy passions for all thy life 
time, until I lead thee to see and enjoy Me in the land of the living." 
Here Magdalen remained motionless, and, receiving the Rules, she thus 
expressed them, speaking in the person of the Word : "I, Spouse of thy 
soul and Word of my Eternal Father, give thee a rule in the same act 
of love in which I made thee partaker of my purity. Beloved of thy 
Beloved, note My and thy rule ; Mine, because I give it to thee ; thine, 
because thou must keep it. 

" i. First, I require of thee that in all thy interior and exterior ac 
tions thou look always to that purity which I made thee understand ; 
and imagine that all thy works and words are to be the last. 

" 2. Try, according to thy ability and the grace which I will give 
thee, to have as many eyes as I will grant thee souls. 

" 3. Thou shalt never give counsel, nor order, though it be in your 
power, except after having submitted it to Me, hanging on the cross. 

"4. Thou shalt never note any fault of mortal creature, nor repri-l 
maud it, except after having first acknowledged that thou art inferior to J 
that creature. 

" 5. L,et thy words be sincere, truthful, grave, and far from anyaduj) 
lation, and thou wilt always point to Me as the model of the works that 
creatures must perform. 

" 6. With thy equal let not thy amiability surpass thy gravity, nor 
thy gravity exceed thy meekness and humility. 

"7. I/et all thy actions be performed with so much meekness, and 
in so humble a manner, that they may appear like a magnet to draw 
creatures to Me ; and with so much prudence, that they may be a rule 
to my members, that is, to the Religious souls, and to thy neighbors. 

" 8. Be thou day and night thirsty (as the deer is after water) to) 
practice always charity with My members, holding the weakness andV 
weariness of thy body in as much consideration as the dust which is/ 
trodden upon. 

" 9. Thou shalt exert thyself, in proportion to the ability I will give 
thee, to be food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the 
naked, a haven to the imprisoned, and relief to the afflicted. 

" 10. With those whom I leave in the ocean of this world, thou 
shalt be as prudent as the serpent ; and with my chosen ones, as simple 
as a dove ; fearing the former as the face of a dragon, and loving the 
latter as the temple of the Holy Ghost. 

" ii. Hold sway over thy passions, asking the grace therefor of Me, 
who am the Ruler of all creatures. 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

" 12. Be condescending with My creatures, as I, while on earth, used 
with them sovereign charity, always mindful of these words of My 
Apostle: Quis infirmatnr, et ego non infirmorf ( Who is weak, and 
I am- not weak? (2 Cor. xi, 29). 

" 13. Thou shalt not deprive anybody of anything that thou mayest 
be permitted to give away, on being asked for it ; and thou shalt not 
deprive any creature of anything that may be granted to her, unless 
thou hast first borne in mind that I am the scrutinize! of thy heart, and 
that I will have to judge thee in power and majesty. 

" 14. Thou shalt esteem thy Rule and the constitutions of the same, 
together with thy vows, as much as I want thee to esteem Myself, trying 
also to imprint on the heart of every one of thy sisters the zeal of the 
vocation to which I called them and of thy Religion. 

" 15. Thou shalt have a great desire to be subject to all, and a 
7 horror of being preferred to anyone, even the least one. 

" 1 6. Thou shalt not consider thy relief, rest, and delight to consist 
in anything but in contempt and humility. 

" 17. On this day thou shalt cease letting creatures know thy desires 
and My commands, except those I have entrusted thee to and My christ? 

" 1 8. Thou shalt be a permanent oblation of all thy desires and 
operations, together with My elect, in Me. 

" 19. From the hour when I departed from My holy Mother, viz., 
from the twenty-second hour 2 until the time thou art to receive Me, thou 
shalt make a continuous offering of My passion, of thyself, and of My 
creatures to My Eternal Father; and this will be thy preparation to 
receive Me sacramentally ; and between the day and the night thou shalt 
visit My Body and Blood thirty-three times. U_ 

" 20. The last thing will be, that in all the operations which I will 
permit thee, both interior and exterior ones, thou wilt be transformed 
in Me." 

After this she remained for a while in silence ; then, still ecstatic, 
she continued in the person of the Word : 

" This is the Rule which the Beloved of thy soul in an act of love 
has given thee. Therefore, thou shalt take it, and thou shalt keep in 
thy heart the things contained therein, and shalt put them all in prac 
tice, except when charity and obedience may deprive thee of visiting My 
Body and Blood. 

Having said this, she came to herself from her ecstasy. How faith 
ful she was in keeping these rules, the course of her life bears infallible 
testimony. Her zeal to comply with the greatest exactness with the 
instructions of her Divine Master, suggested this practice to her. She 
devoted one entire day of every month to the most searching examination 
of her conscience to see how she had kept these rules; and, for the least 
fault of which she might deem herself guilty (which never failed to be 
the case, on account of her most profound humility), with an iron disci 
pline she would unmercifully scourge herself for a whole hour. Besides 
the exercises corresponding to this divine direction, not a few were the 

1 The confessor. Note of the Translator. 

3 Old Italian method of computation, again lately revived. Note of the Translator. 




The time of her probation being over, she is decked with a crown, 
a necklace, etc. (page 102). 

152 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 153 

acts, the offerings, and the protests of piety which she practiced daily of 
her own spontaneous and particular inclination. Remarkable above all 
was her exercise every morning, which, the better to execute, she wrote 
with her own hand as follows : 

* First, thou shalt say three times : ^Benedicta sit Sancta TrinitasJ 
etc. Blessed be the Holy Trinity ; then thou shalt examine thy con 
science, offering the Blood of the Word. After this thou shalt adore the 
Most Holy Trinity, first adoring the Eternal Father, acknowledging 
Him as God, offering thyself to Him in this acknowledgment as being 
ready to give thy life and thy blood. Likewise, then adoring the Eter 
nal Word and the Divine Spirit, thou shalt do the same ; praying each 
of the three Divine Persons that They may be pleased to accomplish in 
thee Their divine will. Afterwards, thou shalt adore the Beloved Word, 
confessing Him true God and true man, offering to give thy life 
and blood for this confession and truth. Thou shalt also adore the 
unity of the Most Holy Trinity with an act of reverence, making the 
same offering of thyself. Then thou shalt renew thy profession with 
the greatest possible purity and simplicity of affection, promising to 
observe perfectly the rule and constitution. This done, thou shalt con 
secrate thyself to the Most Holy Trinity, making a perfect oblation 
and holocaust of thyself, committing all thy intentions, thoughts, words, 
and works, interior and exterior, to the purity of God, praying to Him 
that He may fulfill in thee that divine and loving will of His for which 
He created thee and called thee to the perfect state of Religion. 

" Afterwards thou shalt reflect within thyself, knowing that thou 
art nothing, and then, elevating all thy mind to God, thou shalt rejoice 
in His infinite perfections and in the thought that He alone is inscrut 
able and cannot be understood or comprehended by any creature, taking 
delight in this that all creatures in heaven and on earth, and all that 
exist, give Him glory, praise, and magnify Him ; thou shalt rejoice at His 
infinity, which is such that all creatures, though doing what they can, yet 
do nothing in comparison to His greatness ; thou shalt rejoice as much 
as possible that He is God, as He is, and, knowing Him to be the 
Sovereign Good, infinitely lovable for His own sake, thou shalt wish to 
love Him with the perfection wherewith the blessed love Him, and all 
creatures and the blessed together have loved Him, do love, and shall 
love Him for eternity ; and with all the divine perfection with which He 
loves Himself, has loved, and will love Himself forever. Thou shalt 
thank His Divine Majesty, that, loving Himself, God pays the debt we 
owe to Him. 

" Again, humbly adoring the Most Holy Trinity, thou shalt offer to 
Him, first, all His divine perfections ; then the perfection, fullness of 
grace, and merits of the Incarnate Word, that of the Virgin Mary and of 
all the blessed, and also of all the elect; wishing thou wert able to suffer 
and do all that has been suffered and done, and for eternity will be 
suffered and done, by all creatures for her honor and glory. Thou 
shalt also wish all thy lifetime, particularly on this day, to be able to 
exalt, praise, magnify, and honor her as the blessed and all creatures 
exalt, praise, magnify, and honor her, and as much as God Himself does, 
in an act of love. 



154 T HK UFE AND WORKS OF 

" Again making thy adoration to the Most Holy Trinity with the 
intensest possible love, thou shalt thank His Divine Majesty for the good 
that God possesses, rejoicing and delighting in it ; and thus thou shalt 
thank Him for the glory conferred on the humanity of the Word, on the 
person of Mary, and for that which the blessed have received and all the 
elect shall receive. Thou shalt also thank Him for the benefits, graces, 
and communications which He has granted thee and will grant thee 
throughout eternity. Then thou shalt thank Him for having created 
thee to His image and likeness, redeemed with the blood of His Only- 
begotten, espoused and consecrated thee to Himself, and for giving Him 
self to thee every day ; and for all the graces and communications He 
has granted thee, always crediting them to Him ; rejoicing not at seeing 
thyself enriched with such graces and gifts, but because by means of 
these benefits thou shalt have greater strength to serve and honor Him ; 
offering the Incarnate Word and His blood in thanksgiving to the 
Eternal Father for so many mercies. 

" Here thou shalt enkindle in thyself the fervor of spirit and con 
ceive the desire to unite thyself with thy most loving God, whom 
thou hast known and knowest to be so great and immense ; and know 
ing and believing by living faith that He through His infinite power 
and liberality can and wants to unite Himself with the creature, thou 
shalt be humble within thyself, knowing thy vileness ; then thou wilt 
turn to the Eternal Father, and pray to Him that He may give thee His 
Divine Word ; and when He shall have given Him to thee, thou wilt 
shut thyself in His heart, and there thou shalt relax thyself in Him, in 
union with that relaxation which the Word made of His soul on the 
cross, viz., when He expired. Being united with the Word, thou 
shalt resign thy will into the hands of the Eternal Father, saying : ^ Fiat 
voluntas tua 1 Thy will be done; in union with the resignation of 
the Word in the garden. After this thou shalt pray to Him to grant 
thee and fix in thee His eternal will, offering thyself to Him as a 
daughter. Then thou shalt ask the Word to grant thee love, offering 
thyself to Him for a bride ; and thou shalt ask humility of the Divine 
Spirit, offering thyself to Him as a disciple. 

u This done, thou shalt offer to the Eternal Father the Word, with 
all His divine perfections, soul and body, thoughts, words, and works, 
together with the little bundle of myrrh of His passion and His precious 
blood, and thyself with Him. This thou must do as if thou wert mak 
ing said offering in the Divine temple of the Heart of said Word, in 
union with the offerings He made whilst staying with us on earth. 
Thou shalt make that offering for all the Church triumphant, militant, 
and suffering, wishing to do so with the greatest feeling of love with 
which it may ever have been or may ever be offered by all creatures. 
As the Eternal Father takes great delight in this offering, thou shalt rest 
in this delight, and therein thou shalt take the cross together with the 
Word, with the determination of following Him until death. Then 
thou shalt make to thy God, Spouse, and Teacher the following promises: 

" i. I promise to choose the deepest humility. L- 

" 2. To adore and confess the unity of the Most Holy Trinity for 
those who refuse to do so. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 155 

" 3. To exalt poverty always and in all things. 

"4. To be the favorite of the afflicted and troubled. ^ 

" 5. To build all interior and exterior actions in the wounds of 
Jesus. 

" 6. To be the atonement for the imperfections which are committed 
in the dwelling of Mary (viz., in her monastery). 

u 7. To keep far from the things of the world and from thyself, as 
the heavens are far from the earth. 

^ " 8. To enjoy contempt and humiliation, as God rejoices in Himself. 

" 9. To rejoice in being of God, and in poverty of spirit, and to 
suffer anything rather than prevent thy neighbor from enjoying God. 

" 10 To condole with God for the offenses offered to His Divine 
Majesty. 

" Having terminated this exercise with thy God, thou shalt go 
to the Blessed Virgin, to venerate her, in the manner which is due to her. 
Then thou shalt pray to her, that she may obtain for thee that thou may 
be, with her, Mother, Daughter, and Spouse of the great God ; mother, 
by means of the conformity and uniformity of thy will with that of 
God ; daughter, by pure and right love ; spouse, by fidelity and the 
keeping of the promises made to Him. After this, thou shalt offer to 
her all her dwelling, praying to her to keep it and guard it with that 
love with which she guarded the Incarnate Word and her own purity 
and virginity. And, finally, thou shalt make her this protestation, 
saying: I protest to thee, O most pure Mother, and my most amiable 
Mother, rather to be in hell than not always to have zeal for the 
observance, and the perfection of myself and all thy dwelling that is 
all thy daughters who are now in it and will be in future. And thou 
shalt say three times the Angelical Salutation in the place in which it 
shall please thee. Then thou shalt offer thyself to thy guardian angel, 
praying to him to keep thee always, and thou shalt promise to him 
to correspond to the interior inspirations and divine illuminations. To 
all thy patron Saints, and to all the celestial Jerusalem, thou shalt 
promise that thou wilt honor and revere their feasts and relics, and, above 
all, thou wilt imitate them in their true and holy virtues." 

Analyzing this exercise, we find contained therein seven adorations, 
ten offerings, eleven petitions, six acts of love of God, five acts of 
spiritual desire, the same number of acts of thanksgiving, thirteen 
promises ; and the acts of humiliation, promises, renewal of profession, 
and resignation in God are five in all : which, added to the first, make 
altogether seventy-two interior acts towards God which our Saint practiced 
every morning, with singular attention of spirit, before the sign of rising 
was given to the community. 




156 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 





CHAPTER XXV. 

GREAT EFFICACY OF HER PRAYERS, AND SOME WONDERFUL THINGS 

WROUGHT THROUGH THEM. RESIGNATION OF HER 

WILL TO GOD S WILL. 



j 

JS we may infer from the foregoing with how much reason 
Magdalen De-Pazzi might have said, with the Apostle : "/ 
live, yet not I; but Christ lives in me;" so also appears of what 
great value her voice might be before her Divine Spouse. 
The prayers of this soul were so efficacious and acceptable 
in the sight of God, that it is not exaggeration to say that no 
grace she asked was ever refused; which assertion, besides 
numberless other facts, is also founded on this one, that, in 
an ecstasy of many hours duration, she said, in the person of the Eternal 
Father: " Sponsa unigeniti Verbi mei, quidquid vis a me pete" 
" Spouse of my only-begotten Word, ask of me what thou wilt." We 
have already seen that, at the very time of her desolation, God, through 
her intercession wrought various prodigies. Here it would be proper 
to relate all the others that were wrought through her agency during 
her lifetime ; but as miracles are the offspring of prayer and of sanctity, 
we will now relate some of those which belong to the first class, keeping 
the second for a more advanced stage of the L,ife, and then leaving it 
chiefly to the attention of the reader to remark the lesser graces which 
are spoken of in passing, and leaving also to his conjecture the 
numerous other graces not reported, as they are well-nigh innumerable. 
For, though she did her best to hide from the world and live entirely 
unknown and forgotten by creatures, yet persons afflicted and troubled 
always had recourse to her, some by word of mouth, some by writing, 
some by means of a third party for instance, the nuns and all recom 
mended to her both their spiritual and temporal needs. Many after 
wards returned to present to her their most lively and heartfelt thanks, 
declaring that through the prayers of our Saint they had been consoled 
in their afflictions. 

i. FOR A NUN OF HER MONASTERY SHE OBTAINS THE MIRACU 
LOUS CURE OF ONE OF HER EYES. In the year 1592, Sister Cherubina 
Rabatti was suffering most acute pains from a tumor in one eye, 
called lachrymose ; and as, in spite of all the remedies used, there was 
no sign of healing, the doctors resolved to burn it. The patient being 
most afflicted, was recommending herself to the prayers of Sister Mary 
Magdalen, who, feeling the tenderest compassion for the suffering of her 
sister, began with all fervor to ask Divine assistance in her behalf. 
Especially on the evening preceding the day appointed by the physicians 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 157 

for the operation, between the fifth and the sixth hours of the 
night, she prayed in a more direct and animated manner for the 
health of the sick sister. In the meantime, Sister Cherubina, overcome 
by a greater intensity of pain, was supplicating the Blessed Virgin 
to grant her patience ; when, lo ! be it a vision or in sleep, she saw 
before her the mother, Sister Mary Magdalen, who with a countenance 
extremely majestic and beautiful, and her eyes raised to heaven, was 
offering to God fervent prayers. While gazing upon this consoling 
object, she felt her face pressed suddenly and the eye which was sore 
opened by force, it having been entirely shut for many days. At this 
action she felt such pain that she fainted ; and on recovering, a quarter 
of an hour afterwards, she found her eye wonderfully cured and free 
from pain. Early on the morrow, Magdalen went to pay her a visit, 
and on finding her cured and cheerful, she congratulated her, but without 
showing any surprise. The first thing Sister Cherubina asked her was, 
whether she had been to see her during the night previous ; and on the 
Saint s answering No, but that she had prayed for her at a certain hour, 
the cured sister revealed what had appeared to her in a vision, and, thank 
ful to her mediatrix, returned also due thanks to God for the recovery 
He had granted her, the effect of which was so complete and lasting 
that never more in her life had she to surfer from sore eyes. 

2. SHE OBTAINS FROM JESUS FOR THE SAME NUN TO RECEIVE 

COMMUNION MIRACULOUSLY DURING A SICKNESS. On another occasion, 
the same Sister Cherubina, being sick, was complaining to Sister Mary 
Magdalen that, having to keep her bed, she was prevented from approach 
ing Holy Communion with the rest, as she very ardently desired to do. 
The Saint, being always efficaciously compassionate for the just wishes 
of her neighbors, withdrew to pray to Jesus that He might be pleased 
to console the sorrowing sister ; returning to her, as if certain of the 
prodigy which was to take place, she told her to be on the alert for the 
next day at the hour when the nuns were wont to go to Communion, 
and not to doubt but that Jesus would console her. The devout sister 
bad faith in the words of the Saint, so that she prepared her soul as if 
to receive the Eucharistic Bread at that hour. Now it happened that 
whilst the priest was giving Communion to the nuns in order of religious 
seniority, when it would have been Sister Cherubina s turn, the Host 
disappeared from his hand ; and, fearing it might have fallen, he looked 
and made others look diligently for it, but in vain. Sister Vangelista del 
Giocondo went shortly after to visit Sister Cherubina, and related to her 
this inexplicable occurrence, when she heard from her that Jesus had sent 
her that Host through the prayers of Sister Mary Magdalen, to whom 
she had recommended herself; and how in that Communion she had felt 
a joy and a comfort the like of which she had never felt in her life. 
Hence both of them, with tears of tenderness, gave thanks to God, who 
in His omnipotence thus manifested the preference of His love for a 
human creature. Anyone who wishes to doubt the possibility of this 
fact might as well try to put a limit to the creative power ; which 
would be impossible to do, except by giving up good sense. It remains, 
therefore, that nothing can contradict the existence of the same, as it 
was testified to in the process by several persons. 



158 THE UFE AND WORKS OK 

3. SHE DELIVERS ANOTHER NUN OK HER MONASTERY FROM 
CALCULUS. Sister Catherine Ginori, after suffering for three years 
from calculus, was reduced to such a state that the physicians wholly 
despaired of her life, and the nuns by turn were watching at her 
bedside every night. Sister Mary Magdalen was there one night, and 
the patient was more than usually troubled by her pains, so she recom 
mended herself to our Saint that she might obtain for her from God 
some relief or greater patience. Sister Mary Magdalen began to pray 
for the afflicted sister, who suddenly went to sleep; and, on waking 
up shortly afterwards, found herself without the least pain, and so free 
from the disease that she survived many years in perfect health, keeping 
all the rules and orders of Religion. 

4. THROUGH HER PRAYERS, THE COMMUNITY BEING IN WANT, 
IS PROVIDED WITH DINNER. The monastery was so poor that but for 
the assistance of some benefactors it could not have been kept up. One 
morning in Lent there was nothing in the house for the sisters but a few 
herrings insufficient for their actual needs. Sister Mary Magdalen being 
in the kitchen, called the lay-sister under-cook to herself and thus said 
to her : " Let us pray to the guardian angel of Lapo del Tovaglia (a 
noble Florentine and a benefactor of the monastery) that he may inspire 
him to send us as many herrings as may suffice for the whole com 
munity. " A prayer being offered up by both together, behold ! an hour 
later, in spite of a very heavy rain, a messenger of the said Signer Lapo 
appeared at the monastery gates with a basket of herrings sufficient for 
the dinner of that day; and all the nuns returned their heartfelt thanks 
to God for such a providence. 

5. SHE OBTAINS FROM GOD, THROUGH HER PRAYER, THAT THE 

WINE OF ONE BARREL, WHICH HAD SPOILED IN THE CELLAR OF THE 
MONASTERY, BECOMES GOOD AGAIN. In 1602, the wine contained 
in a large barrel for the use of the monastery was spoiled; and, on 
account of poverty, could not be replaced. The mother prioress, Sister 
Vangelista del Giocondo, recollecting how in 1588 the prayers of Sister 
Mary Magdalen remedied a similar defect, now commanded her again to 
pray to God that this wine might become good once more. The humble 
maid did not wish to pray alone, but begged the prioress herself to join 
in this action ; hence both, going down to the cellar, prayed for a while 
together, after which the prioress ordered Magdalen to make the sign of 
the cross on the keg. This the Saint having done by obedience, and a 
little wine having then been drawn out, it was found to have regained its 
former good taste. 

But the principal practice of the union with God which gave such 
efficacy to the prayers of Mary Magdalen was her conformity to the 
divine will. She never asked nor wished for anything except the will 
of God. She was wont to say that she would have considered it a 
notable fault in herself, to ask the Lord, for herself or others, for any grace 
with greater solicitation than simple prayers, and she protested with these 
expressions : " I rejoice and glory in my doing the will of God, not in 
His doing mine ; hence I am under greater obligations to God when He 
does not hear me, than when He grants me what I ask of Him." Even 
the sanctity and perfection of her soul she did not want to be according 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 159 

to her desire, but wholly in conformity with the divine will ; hence, 
among several acts of God s love which she had imposed on herself far 
a daily exercise, this particular one was found written: "To offer herself 
to God and to wish for all that perfection which He is pleased we should 
have, and as He wants us to have it." How perfectly this submission 
was practiced by her became evident on the second of the eight days of 
that great ecstasy of hers, in which, speaking of the coming of the Holy 
Ghost and the wish she felt to receive Him, she declared herself one 
with the divine will in these words, suggested more by the logic of the 
heart than of the intellect : " I with a desire wish Him and do not wish 
Him ; and well do I know that I must and must not wish Him ; and with 
this desire I wish Him for myself and for all. How is this? These are 
contrary things, to wish and not to wish. I say that I do not want to 
wish by myself, as if by myself; because I do not want to have any desire 
of my own. And I dare say nay, I will say that if He were granted to 
me, that in this my will might be done, and not His as His, and not as 
mine, though in this there would be His will, but not primarily ; I will 
say finally that in no way would I be satisfied, so much am I determined 
not to retake possession of and make mine that which I have already 
given Him and which I want to be wholly His, that I may say with all 
truth: Fiat voluntas tuaS I speak of my will and of my desire, for the 
good which comes to me by this channel seems not good to me ; and 
I would rather choose not to possess any other gifts except (and this 
is also His) to give up all my will and all my desire in them, than to 
have any other gift according to my desire and my will : In me sint 
Deus vota tua, et non vota mea* 1 Let every wish of Thine, O God, be 
fulfilled by me, and none of mine. Thus did this holy soul loftily 
raise her will to conform to God s will. But we should not wonder at 
it, since the -first lesson given her by the Holy Ghost in early life, per 
haps in her infancy, and the first grace which she, divinely inspired, 
asked of the Lord, was to fulfill in everything until death His divine 
will. Therefore, looking up to heaven, she frequently said : U O Lord, 
Thou knowest that even from my childhood I desired to please Thee ! " 
Which desire in her finally reached such a degree that many a time with 
great feeling she protested thus : " If I should here see hell opened, O my 
Lord, and know it to be Thy will that I should suffer eternally in those 
flames, I myself would plunge into them, to fulfill Thy holy will." She 
also protested that if in anything a doubt should have arisen before her, 
whether that thing was conformable to God s will, though she might 
have had undertaken it in good faith, yet she would not have continued 
it, even though it cost her life ; and on the contrary, for the same reason, 
she would not have omitted anything, even the least thing, which she 
thought to be according to God s will. This disposition she had, not 
only in consequence of an act which had become generic and habitual, 
but because in the smallest action she constantly renewed it ; so that she 
was many times heard to say, in speaking of going from one room to 
another, or the like: "If I did not think that it was the will of God, I 
would not go from here to there." 

What is generally found to be so hard even by spiritual persons 
that is, to actually direct every action to God was to Mary Magdalen so 



160 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

easy and familiar as to make it seem impossible to her that reasonable 
beings could act inconsiderately ; and she wanted by all means that the 
first consideration should always be for the will of God. She would thus 
speak to the sisters: "If you wish to reach great perfection in a short 
time, you must try to perform all your actions in order to fulfill the will 
of God, as this holy intention is capable of sanctifying the work." On 
noticing that they did this only indirectly, she used to feel unutterable 
pain and give vent to these and the like words of complaint : " O Sisters, 
how much we lose, because we do not understand this traffic !" She 
was so enamored of doing the will of God, that, at simply hearing it 
spoken of, she used to sparkle with joy, and her rejoicing soul was some 
time rapt in ecstasy. This took place particularly one evening, when 
nearly all the nuns having retired to their cells to rest, and Magdalen 
having remained for a little while in the corridor, she heard some one 
say that a certain sister felt a great desire to do the will of God ; at 
which, greatly rejoicing, she said : She has good reason to feel so ; as 
doing the will of God is the most amiable action." She became so 
glowing with heavenly enthusiasm that she remained alienated from her 
senses ; and, unable to keep within herself the excessive sweetness which 
the object of her ecstasy caused her to feel, thus ecstatic she ran through 
the dormitory, exclaiming that the will of God was lovable ; and she 
called the sisters to come together with her to confess that the will of 
God was amiable. At this cry of God s Spirit in her the sisters felt 
their hearts touched, and, they also partaking of Magdalen s zeal, came 
out of their cells and with her went to a small oratory in the interior of 
the monastery, where, not without tears of devotion, in a loud and 
unanimous voice they confessed the will of God to be amiable, a great 
desire remaining in them all to fulfill it. 

At other times also she used to say to the sisters : u Do you not feel 
what suavity this simple expression contains : Will of God? " And it was, 
in fact, this sentiment which sweetened the numerous afflictions of her life, 
they being considered as proceeding from God s will ; and the adversities 
and trials of those five years of probation, at the horrible sight of which, 
foreshown her by God, she said nothing but : " Suffi,cit mihi gratia tua " 
" Thy grace is sufficient to me." In this correspondence to the divine 
will she lived as if dead to herself, and exactly tallying with her was the 
likeness of a soul which God showed her on the sixth of the eight days 
of the great ecstasy, and by her described in the following words : "She 
is^walking along behind her Spouse, without seeing, without hearing, 
without understanding, without knowing, without speaking, without 
tasting, and, I was going to say, without acting, and altogether as if 
dead; only intent on following that interior attraction of the Word, in 
order not to offend Him." Thus exactly did she live, always and 
altogether surrendered to- the wishes of the Most High.; and look 
ing upon her own will as her greatest enemy; so that, conversing 
one day with a sister, she told her that she wished for nothing from 
the L,ord except that He would take her own will away from her, for 
she knew that even by earnest trying she did not progress as much as 
she wished in those virtues which make a soul pleasing to God. These 
words she uttered with such a feeling of humility that she had scarcely 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. l6l 

finished them when she was raised into ecstasy, Jesus showing to her the 
great harm done to souls by their being led on by their own will. This 
is the case particularly with Religious, on account of the vow of obe 
dience, by which their own will is already consecrated to God. Having 
at the same time understood that Jesus did not want her to permit 
herself to be led in anything by her own will, being still ecstatic, she 
took the superioress, who was present with the sisters, by the hand and 
conducted her to the oratory, where she offered most fervent prayers to 
the Blessed Virgin, ardently supplicating her to be pleased to give her 
light and help to know and fulfill the divine will. She also prayed 
with great fervor and with tears for the said superioress, in order that 
she also would try for the love of Jesus to divest her of her own will ; 
and, as an act of resignation, she prostrated herself three times to the 
ground, as if to ask forgiveness, and then came out of her ecstasy, leaving 
to the sisters many lessons of holy life. 

On the day following, being occupied with holy exercises of the 
community, suddenly and with violence she was thrown to the ground, 
and simultaneously rapt in ecstasy, when Jesus appeared to her with a 
troubled countenance. At such a sight she became pale and trembled; 
and, looking for the cause of the anger of the Divine Spouse, she under 
stood that it was this, viz., that having been at other times made to 
understand how He wanted to raise her to a higher degree of religious 
perfection, and that her actions were also to be a little singular, she, 
moved by a desire to avoid such peculiarity, had offered some resistance 
to this, His divine will, and had given way to the thought of suffering 
anything rather than pass for a person of singular life before her com 
panions. For this, then, she saw Jesus with a troubled countenance, 
who imposed on her that both exteriorly and interiorly she should have 
been grateful to Him, without opposing to Him the least resistance. 
Not many days after, being in the choir, she was again rapt in ecstasy, 
and saw Jesus still with an angry look, for which she fell, dismayed, to 
the ground with her arms crossed; and, fearing lest this anger might 
have been caused by some act of her own will not conformable to God s 
will, she said with St. Paul : " O Lord, what dost Thou will of me ? Give 
me what Thou art pleased in, and I will do everything, provided Thy 
resplendent eyes may look down on me and Thy face may not appear 
angry with me" and she added other words of humility. Having 
remained thus a little while, she arose from the ground with a cheerful 
and serene countenance ; and, turning to an image of the Blessed Virgin, 
she said: "O Mary! I see after all the most pure and resplendent eyes 
of my Spouse, looking down upon me with a countenance no longer 
troubled but benign. But, pray ! tell me, O my Jesus, what did I do in 
so short a space of time for which I may have deserved so sweet and 
smiling a look?" And she was answered: " Conformity of will." This, 
then, is what renders Jesus benign and propitious to us. Let us reflect 
in regard to the above-described facts in the life of our Saint, that no 
matter how much one may believe himself resigned to the divine will, 
he will never be truly so until he has succeeded in divesting himself 
entirely of his own. 



162 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 













CHAPTER XXVL 




SHE MANIFESTS IN DIVERS WAYS HOW HER HEART POSSESSED 
EMINENTLY THE LOVE OF GOD. 



|HAT has thus far been related of the ecstasies, the five-years 
trials, the recollection in God, the conformity to the divine 
will, and the rest, is but the result of that sublime and 
noble principle dwelling in the human heart, which, when 
strengthened by superior virtue, circumscribes and fixes its 
affection in Him who, having extracted it out of nothing, 
destined it to eternal happiness. As we are unable to judge 
of the hearts of others, except by their exterior actions, the 
many wonderful occurrences in the life of Mary Magdalen furnish us 
with ample proof of how justly she is called the Scrafina del Carmelo. 
If what is written in the divine book of the Canticle is an excess of 
the love of the soul towards the Sovereign Good, I am at a loss to know 
in what Mary Magdalen s love differed from that of such a Bride. Cer 
tainly there has never been a person so much in love with another who 
did or felt in the least what our Saint did and felt for God s love. It 
has already been said how her mind was continually fixed in God, both 
praying and meditating, teaching and busying herself about domes 
tic occupations ; and how she was so passionately rapt in the contem 
plation and enjoyment of God, that at the least thing she was taken out 
of herself and her senses. Moreover, she had during her lifetime such 
moments of holy inebriety, that her heart was unable to contain the 
ardor and intensity thereof, and compelled her to act almost as a mad 
person would, bursting out into words and acts of holy madness. She 
who was by nature and the austerity of life of a delicate, slim, and atten 
uated appearance, when overtaken by such excesses of divine love, used 
to become strong, and her countenance appeared full and brilliant, her 
eyes reflected celestial splendors, and from every movement of her person 
appeared singular energy, strength, and vivacity. Hence, to give vent 
to the exuberant vigor by which she then felt herself permeated, she 
was compelled to move and stir in an unusual and wonderful manner. 
She used to run swiftly from one place to another, tear anything that 
came to her hands, and, as if she were about to burst, unbuckle and 
wrest off her clothing and run through the monastery, exclaiming with 
a loud voice : " Love ! love ! love !" Turning to her God, she used to 
say with the most lively and heartfelt emotion : " O my Lord ! no more 
love ! no more love ! the love Thou bearest Thy creature, O my Jesus, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 163 

i$ too much : it is not tco much for Thy greatness, but it is too much 
for Thy creatures, so low and despicable !" And she acknowledged her 
self unworthy of this love, saying : " Why dost Thou give me so much 
love, who am so unworthy and vile?" At other times she used to say : 
" O God of love ! O God of love ! O God, who lovest Thy creatures 
with a pure love !" and the like burning words. Sometimes in the 
midst of these excesses of love she used to take the Crucifix in her 
hand, and thus go shouting through the monastery : " O Love ! O Love !" 
And at times she would stop, gazing with ecstatic sweetness at the lov 
ing countenance of her beloved Spouse ; or press the Crucifix tenderly 
to her bosom and kiss it, saying : u O Love ! O Love ! I will never 
cease, O my God, to call Thee Love and joy of my heart, hope and 
comfort of my soul !" The sisters derived much pleasure from seeing 
her in these excesses of love, so that they gladly followed her, also feel 
ing a spark of that divine flame. Magdalen noticing them, used to say- 
to them : " Do you not know, my dear sisters, that my Jesus is nothing 
but love? nay, He is crazy with love. Crazy with love, I call Thee, O 
my Jesus ; and will always call Thee so. Thou art all amiable and 
jocund, recreating and comforting ; nutritive and unifying ; Thou art 
pain and relief, labor and rest, death and life at the same time. Finally, 
what is it that is not found in Thee? Thou art wise and joyful ; sub 
lime and immense ; wonderful and ineffable." 

At other times during the same ecstasy of love, on account of her 
ardent wish that God would be known and admired by all men, turning 
her eyes to heaven, she pronounced these words: U O Love! O Love! 
give me so strong a voice, O my Lord, that in calling Thee Love, I may 
be heard from the east even unto the west, and in all parts of the world, 
even in hell, that Thou mayest be known and revered as true love. O 
Love, Thou penetratest and passest through, breakest and bindest, 
rulest and governest all things. Thou art heaven and earth, fire and 
air, blood and water ; Thou art God and man. And who could ever 
think of and explain Thy greatness, Thou being infinite and eternal ? " 
Thus, exceedingly enthusiastic with divine love, she passed whole days, 
appearing to be an angel on earth feeding on the delights of heaven. 

On the 8th of January, 1584, the soul of this, His beloved servant, 
being rapt in God, after Communion, she felt that her Spouse was 
greatly complaining to her, because prayers were not offered to Him for 
the innumerable and grievous offenses that were continually being com 
mitted against Him all over the world by sinners, in order that He would 
not have to give vent to His resentment and anger against them and 
all other creatures on their account ; and she was given to understand 
that in God this desire of being forced, as it were, by His elect not to 
chastise sinners is so great, that to make her the better comprehend it, 
He Himself condescended to inform her of it by uttering the words of 
the forty-first Psalm : Quemadmodum desidcrat cervus adfontes aquarum, 
ita desiderat anima meaadte, Deus" u As the hart pan teth after the 
fountains of water; so my soul panteth after Thee, O God." Not under 
standing how there could be any desire in God, she was saying : " Oh ! 
how can God wish? No desire can be found in Him. And how can 
He say also ad te, Deus? being God Himself? " While perplexed with 



164 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

this thought, her mind was enlightened by her beloved Spouse, and she 
understood that it was the soul of the Incarnate Word that was speaking 
to the Eternal Father in such a manner, praying to Him for the con 
version of sinners; hence the words ad te, Dcus, that is: "Eternal 
Father, I wish for Thy honor and greater glory that all creatures may 
be converted to Thee, praise and glorify Thee, and enjoy complete hap 
piness; and, as Thou, O Father, hast glorified Me, thus do I glorify 
Thee on earth, wishing and praying that all creatures may be saved, and 
may come to Thee, living fountain." 

Having remained in silence for a while, she then added : "Yes, O 
Word, Thou hast already said it : * Pater, clarifica Filium tuum, ut Filius 
tuus darificet te 1 * Father, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may glorify 
Thee (John xvii, i) ; and also: Ego clarificavi te super terram* 1 I 
have glorified Thee on the earth " (Ibid. 4). And her Spouse, enlight 
ening her still more for the full understanding of His above-mentioned 
desire, told her by a similitude that He was like a father who, having a 
son guilty of bad conduct, is bound to correct and chastise him ; but 
also, like a father who loves his child and rejoices when a friend interposes 
between him and his child, and begs him to forgive the delinquent as a 
favor to him, because in this way mercy replaces justice; likewise to 
God, Father of mercies, she might be sure, it was infinitely pleasing 
to be able to grant forgiveness to sinners, when His dear ones ask Him 
for it with all the affection of their hearts. 

During this same ecstasy she was also given to understand how all 
the sins committed by creatures in the world have their origin in self- 
love, which multiplies in the soul as weeds do in the ground when not 
rooted out by the husbandman. Hence she used to see the world as an 
immense field covered and full of this self-love the beginning and 
foundation, she used to say, of every sin ; and which, unless it be 
uprooted, ruins the soul, introducing itself into every action and work. 
So deeply in reality is the secret love of self rooted in man, and so 
tenaciously is it striking root in most hidden recesses of his heart, that 
with difficulty it permits itself to be known by man not to speak of 
uprooting it all and destroying it so that not even the least root remains. 
A single root alone would suffice to diminish the price and value of and 
even corrupt the noblest actions of the greatest Saint. Mary Magdalen 
then continued ; "O how much this self-love has been abhorred by my 
Word, especially at His Nativity, taking the form of a tender child, and 
resting on hay between two animals in a stable ! In all His other works 
also He wanted to manifest His opposition to it, loving humility and 
hating pride and sensuality ; always suffering inconveniences and priva 
tions, and finally dying on the hard wood of the cross, between two thieves, 
without the comfort of a created thing ; and He taught his creatures 
how to come to God, far from this pestiferous love of self." She also 
understood that two classes of persons possessed by self-love are found 
in this world. The first are those who are so full of it, that, blinded 
by it, they see nothing ; hence they walk in the most dense darkness, 
so that at the least obstacle they stumble with serious danger; and 
moreover, they, like those who are born blind, do not see the misery 
^ herein they find themselves ; and, if this is manifested to them, they 




She sees many claustrals and ecclesiastics in hell (page in). 

164 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 165 

do not believe it ; so that their loss is inevitable and irreparable. The 
second ones are those who walk as if through a mist, so that, though 
they may be prevented from seeing many things, yet they see the 
greatest dangers ; and being therefore easily able to avoid them, they 
are in a better condition than the first ones. The less self-love a soul has, 
the more clearly she sees, and the more easily can she reach the port of 
heaven. Having expressed these revelations, she came to herself from 
her rapture, strongly and efficaciously wishing to uproot from her own 
heart every feeling of self-love, so as to render herself more and more 
conformable to the sublime and pure affections of heavenly things. 

As the love of God is so operative a fire, it not only with hid 
den flames melts in sweet ardor the hearts of the Saints, but also causes 
them sometimes to believe that when unable to resist the divine flames 
they can get relief from such great ardor through natural remedies. It 
often happened to our Saint, that, having burned for many hours in so 
great a fire, with a mad restlessness she went to the well, and, though in 
the heart of winter, drawing out some water, she used to plunge her 
bare arms in it, drink of it in great quantity, and pour some of it in 
her bosom, saying that she felt herself burning and consuming. Turning 
up to heaven with a loving and radiant look, she used often to repeat : 
" I can no longer endure so great a flame !" On account of the same 
divine fire it often happened that even in winter she could not wear 
flannels, nor could she gird her habit as usual, feeling as if she 
were bursting. Among such excesses of love the nuns remarked the 
very wonderful one which happened to her on the feast of the Finding 
of the Holy Cross in 1592. Having received Communion, and being 
rapt in an ecstasy, whilst remaining in an immovable position, she spoke 
first with great fervor on the excellence and value of the cross of Jesus ; 
then, contemplating the Incarnate Word who was nailed to it, she began 
to exclaim : " O Love, O Love ! how little Thou art considered and 
loved ! If Thou dost not find where to rest Thyself, come, O Love, all 
in me, and I will receive Thee well." And complaining of those souls 
that do not love God, she added : " O souls created by Love, why 
do you not love the Love ? What is love but God ? ^Deus charitas est? 
O Love, Thou makest me melt and waste away : Thou makest me 
die, and yet I live ; I feel pain when Thou dost make known to me how 
little Thou art loved and known." Here, on account of the pain she 
felt, she made very piteous and significant gestures and motions. Now 
she would raise her hands to heaven, now she would open her arms, 
now she would clasp the hands in so touching a manner as to excite 
devotion even to tears in those who saw her ; and she never stopped 
saying : " Come, souls, to love my Love ; come to love your God." 
And, being unable longer to keep still on account of this desire, she 
began to run very swiftly through the monastery, it seeming to her as 
if she were making a tour of the entire world, to seek and unite souls to 
love God, calling them with the usual phrase : " Come, souls, come to 
love your God." On meeting some nun she would suddenly seize her by 
the hand, and, strongly pressing her to herself, she would say to her: "O 
soul, dost thou love the Love?" And thinking that every nun felt like 
herself the divine flames, she would reply: "How canst thou live? 



l66 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

Dost tliou not feel thyself consumed and dying of love? " Finally, after 
having long run through the monastery in this state of loving frenzy, 
and seeing no other way of inviting the souls of the people outside to love 
her God, once she got hold of the rope of the big bell, and, ringing it 
energetically, she repeated at the top of her voice : " Come, souls, to Love ; 
come to love the Love by whom you have been so much loved ! 
During this same excess she went to the well to cool the ardor that con 
sumed her, and, plunging her arms into the cold water, she also poured 
some of it in her bosom. After which, with wonderful celerity (which the 
sisters considered supernatural), without ladder, without any support, as if 
flying, she ascended to the entablature of the choir facing the church, 
many feet above the floor, to a spot not wider than the third of an arm s 
length, unprotected on every side, and, as if she were upon a wide and 
safe pavement, she ran to embrace a Crucifix in relief, which was fastened 
in the centre of the entablature. Having removed it from its place, and, 
carrying it in her arms, she descended with the same agility, and, then 
going apart in the chapter, there, on her knees, she spent the whole of 
that day, and some hours of the evening, ecstatically contemplating in 
that image the love of her beloved Bridegroom, and giving vent to the 
ardent affection of her heart towards Him. In the meantime, she was 
also seen by the sisters to press her lips several times to the side of 
the same Crucifix, like one sucking and absorbing with great relish 
some sweet liquor, by which, as she said after the ecstasy, she really 
felt herself very much nourished and strengthened. 

No less wonderful did Magdalen appear on another day, when over 
come by a similar excess of love. Having ascended again and with the 
same agility to the aforementioned entablature, and having again taken 
from it that same Crucifix and made to Him many protestations of the 
tenderest love, she went to the choir, took Him down from the cross, and 
invited the many nuns present to kiss Him. They, being influenced by the 
example of the ecstatic sister, one after the other approached the devout 
image, rendering to it this act of Christian piety. When this was done, 
Magdalen placed the holy image on her lap, and contemplating in it her 
Jesus dead and taken down from the cross, and looking fixedly at His sacred 
wounds, it seemed to her as if she saw Him covered with sweat and 
blood. Touched at such a sight, she thought of wiping His face and 
limbs, and, having no linen in her hands, she took the veils from her 
head, and with loving reverence she touched and wiped the wounds and 
the limbs of Jesus in the image with them. Nor was this pious action 
of hers left without a divine recompense; for, at the end, the superioress 
taking those veils, she found them really damp, as though some per 
spiring person had been wiped with them. Which being by the nuns 
regarded as miraculous, they gave Magdalen other veils, keeping these 
as precious relics, which was not by any means a vain thought ; for, 
having sent them after the death of the Saint to several sick persons, 
wonderful effects were wrought and seen. 

Another time, having entered an excess of the same love, she went 
in the choir to the chapel of the Blessed Virgin of the Manger, and 
having opened the railings of the altar (which was not used for the 
divine celebration) she ascended to it with the same agility, and, having 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 167 

knelt on it, she addressed loving prayers to the Mother of God, that she 
might give her the image of her Son Jesus, who was there represented 
with her in relief. Then making a sign of having obtained this favor- 
she took in her arms that holy image, and, stripping it of all its 
ornaments, she said: "I want Thee stripped, O my Jesus, as I could 
not bear Thee with all Thy infinite virtues and perfections. I want 
Thy humanity entirely bare." She then went with the same image to 
different places in the monastery; in each of them, imitating the priest 
when he offers the Host, she raised the sacred image, offering it to the 
Eternal Father, and saying in one place: " Off era tibi, sancte Pater, 
Filium tuum, quern ab czterno genuisti, et mihi in terram misisti" 
" I offer to Thee, O Holy Father, Thy Son, Whom from all eternity Thou 
hast begotten and sent to me on earth." In another place she added : 
" Vivo ego, jam non ego, vivit vero in me Christus" "And I live, now 
not I; but Christ liveth in me" (Galat. ii, 20). " Dilectus meus candidu s 
et rubicundus" "My beloved is white and ruddy" (Cant. 10) ; and 
there she repeated the act of offering, with the following words: "Offero 
tibi, csterne Pater, Filium tuum, quern ab ceterno in sinu temiisti, et in 
sapientia tua genuisti, et propter miseriam meam et misericordiam tuam 
in terram misisti" " I offer to Thee, O Eternal Father, Thy Son, whom 
from eternity Thou hadst in Thy bosom and didst beget in Thy wisdom ; 
and for my misery, in Thy mercy, Thou hast sent upon the earth." In a 
third place, using the same ceremonies, she thus expressed herself: 
" Offero tibi Filium, ceterne Pater, quern post resurrectionem ejus ad te 
attraxisti et ad dexter am tuam collocasti" "I offer up to Thee, O 
Eternal Father, Thy Son, whom, after His resurrection, Thou hast 
raised to Thee and made to sit at Thy right hand." These offerings 
over, she returned to the choir, and, having reverently ascended said 
altar, she gave the sacred image to all the sisters to kiss, as they all had 
gathered to see the wonderful sight ; and she offered to some the head, to 
others the breast, to one the hands, and to another the feet of the 
Crucifix, as the Spirit of God directed her to do. 

The sentiments which Magdalen expressed, whether in ecstasy or not, 
were always of the highest and most affectionate esteem towards her God. 
She used to call Him : * God of love, of sovereign goodness, of unut 
terable power, of ineffable wisdom, the keeper of our hearts, the sub 
stance of my being." Turning to the Word, now she would call Him: 
<( Eternal Word, Infinite Wisdom, Sovereign Goodness, L,ove incarnate, 
Word become man, Eternal Wisdom, Word, Spouse, O my Spouse." 
Now she would invoke Him: U O only-begotten Word, O great God, 
O pure God ! " Speaking of His humanity, she added : " O slain L,amb ! 
O profound and admirable Humanity of my Word ! " If she looked at 
His sacred limbs, she called them " loving ; " if at His Sacred Heart, she 
exclaimed: "O most sweet, most merciful, and most loving Heart of the 
Word made man ; " if at His Divine Person : " O my Spouse, my beautiful 
Spouse, O L,ove, O Sweetness, O Comfort of my soul, O good Jesus, O 
my Jesus, O my God." If she named the Holy Spirit, she gave Him 
the epithet of " sweet, " loving," and the like. Besides those above 
quoted, she was also wont to use the following expressions towards God : 
" I will never be done calling Him ( lyoye ; Thee alone I want to love 



l68 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

and no other love ; the more I find Thee, O my Jesus, so much the more I 
thirst to seek Thee," and the like. But the most powerful testimony of 
how the divine love was burning in the heart of Magdalen is afforded us 
in those interior acts, the exercise of which in great part she happily left 
written. Among the many remarkable ones during the course of her 
life are the following, written by her own hands, of which it is opportune 
to speak here : 

1. She loved to enjoy and take delight in the divine attributes, viz., 
in the omnipotence, wisdom, goodness, and infinite love with which 
God loves Himself and all His creatures. 

2. She wished to God all the good, glory, and honor that He had, 
and would have throughout eternity. 

3. She rejoiced at the mutual communications which take place 
among the three Divine Persons. 

4. She rejoiced at the thought that God is so great and infinite that 
He cannot be understood by creatures. 

5. She rejoiced at the infinite love with which God loves Himself, 
has loved and will love Himself for eternity ; and she delighted in this, 
that all creatures and all the blessed spirits are not capable of loving 
Him as He deserves ; and she thanked His Divine Majesty because God 
loves Himself infinitely. 

6. She rejoiced for all the treasures and infinite graces that the 
Eternal Father granted and communicated to the humanity of the Word, 
as for the grace He had of performing miracles and of drawing the 
hearts of creatures to Himself. 

7. She rejoiced that the Eternal Father gave us creatures as an in 
heritance to the Incarnate Word ; and she rejoiced at the delight He takes 
in such inheritance, and at His complacency in the souls of the just. 

8. She rejoiced at the love the Incarnate Word bore to virginity. 

9. She offered God to God Himself in thanksgiving for all the 
glory, honor, and happiness He possessed, and in thanksgiving for all 
the gifts and graces He communicated to all creatures. 

10. She used, to say to the Lord : " If at this moment I could give 
Thee all the glory, honor, and praise that are given thee at present by 
all the blessed spirits, and all the just of the earth, I would willingly do 
it ; but, as I cannot, accept of my good will towards Thy divine Majesty. 

11. She offered herself to God, and wished for all the perfection 
He was pleased she should have, and in the manner He wished her to 
have it. 

12. She inclined her will to love creatures only because God loves 
them, and to rejoice at the love He bears them and the perfection He 
communicates to them ; and even granted (which is impossible) that God 
wanted to permit a creature to offend or displease us, yet she wished this 
creature to have all the perfection and the glory of the seraphim, even if 
it was to be employed in offending us, thus uniting with God in not 
wanting anything but what He wills. 

Such was the sweet disposition by which this soul enamored of 
God was favored, and such were the acts of most intense love which she 
practiced. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DF-PAZZI. 



169 




CHAPTER XXVIL 




HER GREAT DEVOTION TOWARDS THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE 
ALTAR; AND HOW SHE RECEIVED COMMUNION SUPERNATURALLY 
SEVERAL TIMES DURING HER ECSTASIES. SHE SEES JESUS IN 
THE HEARTS OF THE SISTERS WHO RECEIVE HOLY COM 
MUNION, AND EXHORTS THEM TO FREQUENT IT MORE. 



]OVK is that sweet movement of the heart which disposes and 
bends to unite with the loved object ; and as it is not the 
body but the soul that loves, it follows that the soul of the 
true lover tends to unite himself with the soul of the 
beloved, and therefore regards the body as an impediment 
and an obstacle to this union. Because of this impediment 
lovers get angry, and try their best and would give half 
their lives to remove it, in order to secure, as from spirit to 
spirit, an immediate and free union. " Behold," says Cesari, " the ardent 
love of a mother for her child. In the impetuosity of her tenderness 
she presses him very closely to her bosom, as if she wanted him to 
enter her womb again. She stamps burning kisses on his brow, and 
appears as if she wanted to eat him up. What is this ? The soul of the 
mother, that tries to unite with the soul of the son, finds the body standing 
between ; and she, with such loving frenzy, sucking this body, appears as 
if she wanted to destroy it, or take it within herself, and almost to absorb 
it, and thus become one with him, soul and body ; or rather, she seems 
from the mouth of the infant to draw within herself through her mouth 
the soul of her beloved, that it may become one with her own. See 
how the nature of love manifests itself! But you can also see how, 
just on account of the body, this perfect union is not possible among 
men. Christ alone could accomplish it : He hid in the body His Divinity, 
personally united to His soul. And moreover, hiding Himself more 
completely and making Himself smaller under the appearance of bread, 
He found the way thus to enter God, soul and body into our heart, 
and as true food to penetrate our interior. There He goes to find the 
beloved soul, and face to face, spirit to spirit, the Divine Word and our 
soul (which is but a breeze and a breath of the divine substance) drawn 
by mutual affinity, kiss one another, become as one and the same thing, 
embodying one another ; nay, as the power of the Divinity infinitely 
surpasses that of the human spirit, the latter is so much more efficaciously 



176 THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 

absorbed by the former and in a manner which God alone knows and 
can make known, that loving transformation follows whereby man, 
coming out of his natural mode of living, acquires a life, a way of work 
ing, and a will wholly divine. Hence all the Saints always had for this 
Heavenly Banquet the most longing desire, both because of the union 
with the beloved Jesus and the recollection of that night set apart by 
the same Divine Redeemer in order that He might oppose the most 
tender demonstration of His love to human perfidy and ingratitude, 
excessive beyond conception. This testament of living and perpetual 
love forms the primary object of every soul who, turning her face to her 
Divine Maker, opposes no obstacle to His divine charms." 

What was to become, therefore, of our Magdalen so enamored of 
her God? By what ardent wishes must she have felt her heart borne 
away towards the Eucharistic Food? We have already seen how from her 
tender years she was equally reverent towards It and hungry for It; and 
that, just on account of the daily reception of the Most Holy Communion 
therein, she chose the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli. As the 
divine love grew in her with age, so, in equal measure, this celestial 
hunger grew ; so that she came to think it was impossible for her to 
live, unless she could feed daily on this Angelic Bread ; in fact, she 
never voluntarily omitted to receive it ; and, even during her infirmities, 
she tried, as far as lay in her power, not to be left without it. One 
day during the time of her novitiate, it happened that the father con 
fessor delayed the hour of Communion unusually, so that the mistress of 
novices, thinking he was no longer coming, obliged Magdalen to breakfast. 
No sooner did she, against her will and by mere obedience, swallow a 
mouthful than the father arrived and had the bell rung for Communion. 
The holy novice felt such regret and grief at this, and broke into such 
bitter weeping, as to make the mistress, who had been the cause of her 
disciple s being deprived of so much good that morning, weep also. 
The Saint was so transported by the wish of uniting herself with Jesus by 
means of this Divine Sacrament, that even the interval between one day 
and the other was very painful to her; and at the time of Communion it 
often happened that, being impatiently waiting for her turn in the order 
of seniority, without thinking, she would go ahead of others, sometimes 
even the very superioress. The fervor and reverence with which she 
approached the Sacred Banquet a man could scarcely imagine. It can 
well be said, that strengthened and kindled in the love of God by thus 
nourishing herself with the body of Christ, and becoming every day 
more inflamed with it, she was continually in her thoughts, discourses, 
and most ardent desires sitting at the Celestial Banquet, so that, as a rule, 
before or after Communion, she was alienated from her senses. Reflecting 
either on the love shown us by Jesus in the Eucharist, or on His Passion, 
in memory of which this was instituted, she would first become 
inflamed with the most loving gratitude, and then, beginning to 
consider her nothingness in comparison to the infinite divine greatness, 
she would approach to receive this Sacrament with so profound a 
reverence and fear that she used to say she was expecting, some time, on 
account of her un worthiness, that the earth would open under her feet, 
in the performance of this action. She was so immersed in the con- 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 17 1 

sideration of receiving her Jesus in the Sacrament, that every exercise, 
though laborious and distracting, far from making her mind wander, 
would rather become for her a proximate preparation for Holy Commu 
nion. It happened sometimes that during these very exercises she was 
rapt in ecstasy, and thus ecstatic went to Communion. Wonderful in a 
special manner it was the morning the bell for Communion rang while 
she was making bread, when, carried out of her senses by an excess of 
joy, she went to Holy Communion forgetting her arms w r ere bare 
and that there was flour on both her hands. Though in far-away cells, 
wherein it was naturally impossible to hear such a sound, yet there was 
no instance in which it did not penetrate to her ears ; and it was enough 
for her to speak of it, in order that the sisters would consent to follow her 
with firm faith, though they themselves might not have heard the 
common call. It also happened that, Magdalen .being in ecstasy at 
the moment the bell invited the sisters to the Eucharistic Banquet, she, 
as if at the voice of obedience, returned to herself and proceeded 
with the rest to the Divine Repast. On account of her thinking so little 
of herself, she was sometimes seized by so profound a respect that she 
felt a reluctance to approach Holy Communion, saying emphatically: 
" Oh! how great a thing it is to receive a God!" 

Before the Blessed Sacrament she seemed an angel assisting before 
the Majesty of the Most High ; and when the confessor exposed It for 
adoration, her eyes sparkled with joy, and in her voice and the move 
ments of her body she manifested the excess of her contentment. When 
ever she knew this before the other sisters, she would run to them, and 
break the happy news, saying : "Don t you know? The father wants 
to expose the Most Holy Sacrament for us." Thus when the confessor 
entered the monastery to give Communion to the sick, she, as if attracted 
by a strong magnet, could not help drawing as near as possible to him, 
to adore, close by, her Jesus in the Sacrament. Her devotion to Him 
was so great that every day (between day and night) she would ordinarily 
visit Him thirty times, according to the order she had received from 
Jesus Himself in the twenty rules above mentioned. She used to call 
Thursday " the day of love," on account of the institution of the Eucha 
rist, which took place on that day ; and she felt a special desire that the 
sisters would receive Communion on that day. 

During her ecstasies she had most sublime revelations concerning 
this great gift of God ; and especially in one of them the Eternal 
Father taught her the manner of preparing for Holy Communion. 
She expressed other devout thoughts in another ecstasy, in which she 
spoke wonderfully of how the Incarnate Word rests Himself in the soul 
and in the Church. In another ecstasy she spoke with celestial knowl 
edge of the complaisance of God in being united to the just soul, by the 
likeness the soul has to God, and of the delight the soul feels in remain 
ing united with God. On account of the ardent wish she felt in her 
soul, she often manifested in her ecstasies that Jesus, in order to satisfy 
her, gave her Holy Communion with His own hands. This happened 
especially during the two ecstasies above referred to, during which she 
had a taste of the Passion of Jesus ; and contemplating the institution of 
this great Sacrament, and representing vividly the Divine Saviour in that 



172 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

action, she acted as though she actually received Communion from Jesus, 
in company with the Apostles. So it appeared to the eyes of the sisters 
present, and was so understood from the words she uttered in her ecstasy, 
among which were the following : "Dtiectus meus Candidas et rubicundus 
collocavit se in anima mea" "My Beloved, white and ruddy, placed 
Himself in my soul." Another time it was the feast of St. Albert the 
Carmelite, when she was clothed with the habit that came out of the 
wounds of Jesus, as has been related in Chapter XIV, in which ecstasy 
she said the Confiteor and " Domine, non sum digna" three times, she 
opened her mouth as if she were receiving Holy Communion, and she 
continued recollected, as usual, for the thanksgiving. By the like super 
natural power, one morning (the confessor having been prevented from 
coming to give Communion to the nuns, and these being gathered 
according to the custom in such case in the Communion-room, 
to supply the deficiency with their desire), Magdalen, rapt in ecstasy, 
repeated the acts and the words above said, and then, returning to her 
self, related that she saw St. Albert the Carmelite carrying the Most Holy 
Sacrament and giving Communion not only to herself, but also to all 
the nuns who had come there, in token of the delight God took in the 
practice of spiritual communion. God also granted her to see Jesus in 
the heart of the sisters after they had received Holy Communion ; and 
sometimes she manifested in what form she saw Him in each of them 
He showing Himself to her in some as a child, in others at the age of 
twelve, and in others still at the age of thirty-three years, in others as 
suffering and crucified, and in others as risen and glorious ; and this 
diversity occurred according to the various meditations the sisters were 
engaged in, or according to the capacity and the merits of each of them. 

One morning, it being Easter Sunday, whilst she was mistress of 
novices, and sitting at the table with unwonted joy and gladness, 
a novice waitress could not keep herself from asking her the cause of so 
great a joy. To whom Magdalen made answer : "Because I see Jesus 
resting in the breast of all the sisters, glorious and risen, as Holy Church 
to-day represents Him to us ; and His presence is the cause of my being 
so joyful." Having uttered these words, she remained alienated from 
her senses, and began a tender colloquy with her Divine Spouse. Thus 
the company of the sisters promoted in her the presence of God and the 
love of her neighbors ; and one day, she being in the midst of her sisters, 
looking at all of them, and particularly resting her eye on one, she thus 
spoke to her: " Oh ! what love do I feel for all these sisters, seeing them 
all like so many tabernacles and ciboriums of the Most Holy Sacrament 
they so often receive !" 

And the more good she understood to be contained in this celestial 
gift, the more did she wish the sisters to partake of it ; so that, in 
order that they would approach it often, she was wont to speak of it to 
them with so much love and esteem that sometimes on such occasions 
she was by her enthusiasm carried out of her senses. This happened to her 
one day in a special manner, when discoursing on the " Consummatum 
est" "It is consummated" (John xix, 30), uttered by Jesus on the 
cross ; applying which to the soul who has fed on the Angelic Bread, 
she said: "As soon as the soul has received the Bread of L,ife in 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 173 

the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar, by the close union contracted 
with God, she can say also : ^Consummatum est? In that celestial food 
all good is found, all wishes are fulfilled in God; and what else can 
the soul want, when possessing Him Who contains everything? If 
the soul wishes for charity, possessing Him Who is perfect charity, she 
has also the perfection of charity ; the same is to be said of the 
true faith, of hope, purity, wisdom, humility, and meekness ; as 
Christ in the soul, by means of this food, begets all the virtues. What 
can the soul want or wish, if all the virtues, gifts, and, graces she 
might wish are gathered in that wonderful God, who is truly under 
those sacramental species, as in truth He is sitting at the right 
hand of His Father in heaven ? Ah ! Oh ! how well then the soul, 
having and professing this God, can say with truth : * Consummatum estP 
She wants nothing, she wishes for nothing, she longs for nothing else 
but Him who then has given Himself wholly to her, communicating 
to her, together with Himself, all his goods." 

At another time, as she was giving the spiritual exercises (availing 
herself of those of St. Ignatius) to one of her novices, the latter relat 
ing to the saintly mother how in her meditation on the Divine Eucharist 
she had centred her thoughts so much on the love with which Jesus 
had instituted it, that she could not pass to any other idea, Magdalen, 
feeling her heart touched by such expressions, replied several times: 
" When one stops to think on love, she cannot proceed further, but must 
stop at love ; n and here she went into ecstasy. At another time, being 
still mistress of novices, she knelt in their midst, and, crossing her arms 
on her breast, said these words : u O sisters, were we to penetrate 
deeply into the fact that whilst the sacred species last within us, the 
Divine Word performs in us those operations which He performs in the 
bosom of His Eternal Father, and the Word being in the bosom of the 
Father, and the Father in the Word, and the Holy Ghost in both insep 
arably, we, in receiving the Word, receive all the Most Holy Trinity: 
Oh! if we would penetrate it! Oh! if we would know it! we would not 
approach Holy Communion so much at random, nor would we for such 
trifling causes neglect to receive it, but we would think well on it 
before omitting it." Such words, uttered with the greatest fervor, caused 
in the soul of the novices great desire to frequent the Eucharistic table. 
Knowing that any one had omitted by her own will Holy Communion, 
she felt such grief in consequence of it, that it made her weep ; and she 
used to address such a one in words like these : " Thou dost not know, 
O sister, of how much good thou hast deprived thyself; ah ! how much 
good thou hast lost this morning !" And she added the most pressing 
exhortations to persuade the frequenting of the Eucharistic Sacrament, 
demonstrating the advantages it brings to the soul, and the offense 
offered to the love of Jesus by omitting Holy Communion when one 
can receive it. 

One morning, two nuns having been casually left without Holy 
Communion, and Magdalen being in ecstasy, as soon as she heard some 
one speaking of that, she came to herself, and, all inflamed with charity, 
went to call back the confessor, who was about leaving the church, and 
begged of him that for the love of God he would give Communion to 



174 THE LIKK AND WORKS OF 

those two sisters ; which being done by him, her spirit abandoned itself 
again to the ecstatic contemplation. She would pray the Divine Good 
ness, fervently and incessantly, to be pleased to preserve in her 
monastery, till the end of the world, the practice of frequenting the 
Most Holy Sacrament ; and therefore to grant them spiritual fathers 
who would feel this desire also, and who would have such light as 
to worthily admit the sisters to this Banquet. On noticing in any 
one little fervor and diligence, she was also wont to say : "I am pretty 
sure that a single Communion made with true spirit and sentiment, is 
apt to raise the soul to a great perfection of life." Sometimes she called 
to herself some sister, and with many sighs and tears, told her : u Let 
us pray to the Lord, sister, that He may grant us light that we may not 
grow so cold and frozen in His service, and particularly in frequenting 
this Food of Life." 

Among the fruits she attributed to the frequent receiving of Jesus 
in the Sacrament for the benefit of her monastery, was the detachment 
and seclusion from the society of seculars, which she remarked in all the 
sisters, and in which .311^ felt immense consolation. Encouraging those 
who, through pusillanimity and excessive fear abstained sometimes from 
receiving their Spouse Jesus in the Host, she used to say to them : 
"Offer to God in reparation all the actions you perform, and perform 
them with the intention of pleasing His Divine Majesty, then go to 
Communion with purity of heart and with humility, in memory of His 
Passion, as He has ordained." Again: "As a preparation, think 
attentively and try to penetrate the fact that what you receive is God, 
Who gave Himself to us, through love ; and therefore He wants to be 
received with feelings of great love and gratitude." Sometimes she 
suggested that, the better to prepare one s self, a Communion would be 
offered on behalf of another, as to a frequent communicant one is a 
preparation for the other; and she taught that from Communion to 
Vesper time, one should be exclusively engaged in thanking Jesus, 
Whom one has received ; and from Vesper time till the morning follow 
ing, in preparing, by thinking of Him Who is to be received again in 
the next Communion. Among other reflections she suggested for this 
purpose, were the following ones: "Think you have to perform the 
greatest action that can be performed in this world, that is, to receive 
within you the great God. Think that whilst you deserve to be hurled 
into hell, Jesus, through His goodness, shows you so much mercy, that 
He gives Himself to you in the Most Holy Sacrament: what purity 
should your heart possess, having to receive the Fount of purity!" 
Moreover, she regarded it of the highest importance to approach Holy 
Communion free not only from anger, but even from the slightest 
bitterness towards our neighbor, as a Sacrament of love should not be 
received if fraternal charity does not exist. " If you have anything," 
she used to say, "against any sister, try, before you go to Communion, to 
feel within yourselves interior sweetness towards all; and when you do 
not feel it, ask it of Jesus, until He gives it to you. And if you 
experience a prompt determination to lay down your life and blood for 
that sister, in case the will of God required it, go then freely to Holy 
Communion." For the same exercise of charity, she recommended that, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 175 

in preparation, one should have a desire to benefit the whole world, and 
ask God to grant a hunger for this Sacred Food to all faithful souls. 

She did not like to see the sisters going to work through the mon 
astery so soon after Communion, but wished them to remain for a while 
to enjoy the presence of their Divine Guest, making them reflect that this 
was the most precious time we have in this life, and the most appropriate 
to treat with God and give Him the opportunity to purify, enlighten, 
and sanctify our souls. Hence she taught them to employ that time in 
loving aspirations, praise, thanksgiving, and offering of themselves to 
God ; and that there was no means more efficacious to perfect a soul than 
the spending of the time after Holy Communion in such pious exercises, 
as the person who learns from Jesus needs no other books or teachers. 
What a shower of heavenly sweetness would fall on herself, and what 
flames of divine love she would send forth to heaven after feeding her 
soul with the Bread of Angels, he may imagine who reads the history of 
her life and the sublime knowledge with which she was privileged. 

On the 1 2th of February, 1584, as the nuns could not receive Com 
munion sacramen tally, they had come together, according to the above- 
mentioned custom, for their spiritual communion. Magdalen, being 
very anxious to feed on the Bread of L,ife, began to pray with the others, 
and, being soon rapt in ecstasy, was consoled by a joyful vision, in 
which, with the eyes of her angelic mind, she again saw St. Albert the 
Carmelite, who held in his hand the pyx of the Most Holy Sacrament, 
took out the Host and gave Communion to all those who greatly ivished 
for it, passing by the others ; and, having thus completed the act in that 
place, he went through the monastery to give Communion to some 
others desirous of it, but who through obedience were engaged in some 
community work, giving to them words of consolation, whilst to her he 
said : 4 Know that though these brides of God neither feel nor see that 
I, blessed soul, give them Communion ; they are, nevertheless, enriched 
and favored, through me, with all the gifts and graces they would have 
received if they had, in fact, received Holy Communion ; and though I 
may not be by them loved as a father and held in that veneration they 
owe me, as one who has battled under the same banner of the Virgin 
Mary under which they battle, I would not, nevertheless, keep myself 
from proving to them a loving father by ministering to them the Food 
of Life." 

On Good Friday of the same year, she understood the new exercises 
she was to perform when she could not receive Holy Communion ; and it 
seeming to her that her soul was dipped thrice in His sacred side, after a 
short silence, being rapt in ecstasy, she spoke as follows: "I will not ask 
Thee, O my God, that Thou come to me sacramentally, as Thy Church 
ordains otherwise ; but rather do I ask of Thee the knowledge of Thee 
and of myself, for, if I get that, I know I will love Thee, and if I have 
Thy love, how canst Thou not come to me, that love being the cause of 
making the soul come to Thee ? Should I receive Thee sacramentally 
without this love, Thou wouldst pass by and wouldst not dwell in my soul. 
What shall I do, O Word, in that day when I cannot sacramentally 
receive Thee? First, redouble the above knowledge ; secondly, multiply 



176 THE: LIFE AND WORKS OF 

prayer ; thirdly, examine my conscience more fervently and carefully, 
and have contrition for my sins and imperfections ; fourthly, more often 
raise my mind to Thee; fifthly, be more sober in speaking; sixthly, more 
circumspect in temptation ; seventhly, more God-fearing in all my actions 
and operations ; eighthly, more affable in conversation, with a resolution 
to bear patiently everything contrary ; ninthly, in fine, and in conclusion 
and fulfillment of all other things, be more prompt to obey my superiors, 
equals, and inferiors. If Thou dost the will of those who obey, as Thou 
sayest that Thou dost ; then if I shall be obedient and pray to Thee to 
unite Thyself to me, Thou shalt do my will. I go to receive Thee, to 
honor Thee, to unite with Thee, for the repose of the souls in purgatory, 
and to make a commemoration of Thy Passion in that most Holy 
Sacrament. If I shall not be able during these days to make this 
commemoration, I will pass to that which, shortly after, Thou didst 
make in the garden: " Non mea voluntas, scd tua" "Not my will, 
but Thine be done" (Luke xxii, 42). I can also afford relief to the souls 
in purgatory by performing acts of charity, reciting psalms, and making 
an offering to Thee of Thy blood." Here she made in silence a longer 
pause, after which she ended with these words : " Two more, and then it 
is done." She meant to say that Jesus had to dip her twice more in His 
side, and then the seven dips were completed which the Divine Spouse 
had promised to give to this beloved soul, in order to purify her with 
His Blood and bring her to the highest perfection that can be attained 
during this earthly life. 

As a reverent desire to frequent the Eucharistic Banquet is a token 
of conscientious purity, so the nausea and indifference which most 
people feel for It indicate an impure and guilty heart. He who 
approaches it simply because he is forced by the precept of the Church, 
gives evidence of knowing very little of the excellence of this gift ; and 
he who even refuses to comply with this duty, shows a reprobate soul, 
that to the excess of love opposes the excess of ingratitude. This 
perfidy was to the Heart of Christ a sword which pierced it and caused 
it the most acute pain; of it He always complained: " Filio s nutrivi 
et exaltavi: ipsiautem spreverunt me" "I have brought up children and 
exalted them ; but they have despised me " (Isai. i, 2). He wished with 
the most ardent desire to institute this Fountain of our salvation, in which 
He gives us to drink His Blood, the Well-spring of all our good. He 
hunts up men; to them He is longing to give Himself; to them He says 
from the sacred ciborinms : " Come to Me, O all ye who are oppressed by 
the labors of humanity, and I will give you comfort and strength." The 
Eternal Father from above those tabernacles cries out, too: " Hie est 
Filiusmeus delectus. . . . Ipsum audite" "This is My beloved Son, hear 
Him " (Luke ix, 35). He offers to us His beloved Son, from whom we 
may learn wisdom, fortitude, and all the virtues we need. In a word, 
the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ with His Divinity 
is the greatest effusion He can make of His goodness, because it is 
Himself, than Whom no greater good exists. And thus, on out part, we 
manifest the most monstrous ingratitude towards this Divine Benefactor, 
and cause to ourselves the greatest misfortune. Not a few even go so 




She sees the glory that the Jesuit, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, enjoys 
in heaven (page 116). 

176 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



far as to criticise the Church, because she compels her children to 
receive Holy Communion annually. Besides the total want of cor 
respondence of love towards God, these also manifest that their spirit 
makes a bad use of the faculty which distinguishes man from other 
animals. The Church as a society is within her strict right in regard to 
the test by which she wants to recognize her members ; and the act of 
humility which she orders to precede it is but the foundation of the spirit 
of the true believer. If she adds the command to a law of love, this 
results but in the condemnation of the faithful who are reluctant to 
submit to the sweet yoke of Christ ; hence it well accords with reason 
that for this refusal they are adjudged as members cut off from the Holy 
Catholic communion. 




178 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 




CHAPTER XXVIIL 




HER ZEAL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE SALVATION OF SOULS, AND 
HOW FOR EACH OBJECT SHE WISHED TO GIVE HER LIFE. 



IS is the natural prerogative of perfect love towards God, 
Magdalen found her delight not only in contemplating Him 
glorified in heaven and praised by creatures, but ardently 
wished to diffuse among her neighbors the divine flame 
which was burning in her own heart. Every action, affec 
tion, and thought of hers had no other object than God s 
glory ; her fervent sighs flew like darts to this aim. With 
a cheerful spirit she undertook every labor for the glory of 
God ; and for this she asserted that, if it had been possible, she would have 
given her life a thousand times a day. Oh ! how many times was she 
heard to exclaim, during her ecstasies, with glowing fervor : u Blessed 
and happy would I be were I to be found worthy of giving my life and 
blood for Thy glory, O my God ! " At the ringing of the bell calling 
the nuns to the choir for the divine praises, she sometimes said to those 
who happened to be with her : u Lo ! the voice of God calls us ; let us 
not be deaf to it ; let us not fail to do what it demands of us ; let us go 
and praise God." 

The great fervor with which she recited the ecclesiastical prayers, 
she wished to see also in all creatures, and above all in her com 
panions of the monastery; to whom, if an opportunity presented itself, 
she addressed words of complacency, of encouragement, or reproach, 
according to the needs of each one of them, to the end that all would 
be as zealous as possible for the honor and glory of God. Though her 
voice was weak, yet she made every effort to keep up in the choir the 
canonical recitation, when there was need of it; and when unable to do 
it, being overcome by the hurry of those who had stronger voices, 
she grieved so much thereat that she was compelled sometimes to ask 
leave to come out of the choir. At one time, having left her place, she 
went before the superioress during the recitation of the office, and, with 
humility equal to her zeal, said to her: " Mother, the psalmody is carried 
on so hurriedly that one would think that there is something else to be 
done which is of greater importance than this." Another day, seeing 
that a chorister hurried the office too much, she spoke to her as follows : 
"Sister, if thou hast anything to do which is more important than this, 
come out of the choir, and go and do it." She gave similar advice to 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE PAZZI. 1/9 

many, and she used to often say : "I dare not dispatch the divine 
praises like the other business of the monastery." Thus with her zeal 
she brought the nuns to recite the divine office very devoutly ; and she 
noticed both in herself and the others even the smallest fault, not only 
in the recitation but also in the least important ceremonies. Conse 
quently, she once accused herself of having paid more attention to seeing 
that these things were done right, than of having kept her mind fixed 
in God. This fervent solicitude was born in her because of the high 
estimation in which she held the Divine Office, the exercise of which 
she considered the principal one in Religion, after the reception of the 
sacraments ; and, therefore, she was wont to call it " the exercise of the 
angels." Hence, she -used to say that one should assist in it with 
angelic modesty and reverence ; and this she tried to impress chiefly on 
her novices. As they were going to the choir, she sometimes told them : 
" Consider that you go to praise God with the angels ; that you are in 
the presence of the Most Holy Trinity, and that you are not worthy of 
being there ; and that at every word you ought, through reverence, to 
stoop to the ground." 

There are other instructions she used to give them with regard to 
this exercise of the choir, which we will relate when speaking about the 
zeal for the souls entrusted to her care. She was unable to conceive 
how the desire and zeal for God s glory should not have been such in 
all creatures as she felt it in herself; she really could not see otherwise. 
Hence, she was sometimes heard to say : " It seems strange to me, and 
I avow it is a thing I cannot understand, why there is such a scarcity of 
souls that hold the honor of God in high esteem." And she added: 
"Ah! pray, sisters, let us compel Jesus, with our prayers, always to 
grant a pastor to this place, who may be zealous of God s honor." 

Having in view also the divine glory, this holy soul had the most 
burning desire for the conversion of heathens and the extirpation of 
heresies ; so that she cherished a special affection for those Regular 
Orders that tend directly to the greater glory of God and the increase of 
His kingdom by means of the propagation of faith and the conversion 
of souls. The same affection she entertained towards those religious 
persons who labor towards that end. Whenever she would hear some 
thing read in the refectory in which the gain of some souls to the 
Christian faith was related, she manifested even exteriorly the joy and 
happiness of her spirit, and (as she was wont to say) she felt herself 
burning with a feeling of peculiar benevolence and esteem towards the 
happy workers of such conversions, and was longing to do the like, 
herself, for the glory of God. The life of St. Francis Xavier, the letters 
of missionaries from Japan relating the conversion of the people of 
that kingdom, seemed to melt her with a desire to be there, too, to 
cooperate in the salvation of those souls and to suffer martyrdom for 
them. She envied, in a certain way, the birds which have a free and 
easy access to all the regions of the world. She wished for wings in 
order to fly all over the earth to convert souls for the greater glory of 
God. She used to exclaim with an ardent sentiment : " Oh ! that it 
were given me to go among the heathens and even to the Indies, and 
instruct those little Indian infants in our faith, so that Jesus might have 



l8o THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

those souls, and they might have Jesus ! " Another day, being in 
ecstasy, and speaking in general about the heathens, she thus expressed 
herself: "If I could, I would take them all and bring them into the 
bosom of Holy Church, there to be by her breath purified of all their 
infidelity and regenerated, as a mother regenerates her little ones, and 
then placed at her sweet breast to feed them with the milk of the most 
holy sacraments. And oh ! how well would she feed and nurse them at 
her breast! Oh! how gladly would I do it if I could!" Thus pene 
trated by this thought, when asleep she used to dream and speak of the 
conversion of the heathens. Being so fixed in this thought, she im 
agined sometimes that she was in those places laying down her life for 
Christ s faith. One day, whilst having her hair cut off according to the 
custom of the nuns, she was overtaken by such apprehension that, 
thinking she had her head actually under the axe of the executioner, 
ready to suffer martyrdom, being alienated from her senses, she began 
to say : ( Does he not come ? Why does he delay so long ? . . . 
Behold, my head is perfectly ready. " And in this wise she was nourish 
ing in the meantime her pious imagination and affection. 

In order to realize to some extent her most intense desire for the 
conversion of the heathens, very often she would offer to God for them 
the blood of Jesus, and apply towards their conversion the works of 
Religion, the Communions, and many of the penances which she prac 
ticed. She also tried effectually to inspire the same sentiments she felt 
in all those who conversed with her, especially those of the monastery 
who were committed to her direction. Hence calling the novices often 
together to work or various exercises of the community, being intent in 
a particular manner upon the conversion of the Indians, she used to say to 
them : " Let us offer to God for the heathens whatever we shall do 
to-day ; " or " Let us ask of God as many of those souls as we shall take 
steps through the monastery ; " or " Let us ask for as many of them as 
we shall say words in the Divine Office." When they were sewing, she 
was wont to say : ( Let us ask for as many as we will make stitches 
with a needle." When washing the linen, she exhorted them to ask for 
as many of them as the number of times they dipped their hands into 
the water ; in a word, she used to take advantage of every exercise to 
make such petitions to God. 

She also grieved greatly because the spirit of innovation was creep 
ing so much among Christians as to plunge many of them into heretical 
errors. She was wont to weep because even men of high learning, 
beguiled and seduced by strange passions, renounced the purity of the 
faith of their fathers, sometimes for the simple reason that the ministers 
of the sanctuary were not worthy of their vocation. So insane a pretext, 
so often thrust forth, is a very evident proof of the association of vicious 
morals with willful ignorance in matters of religion. Impiety marks 
the soul of him who, being raised in the way of the Lord, as shown us 
by revelation the deposit of which is only in the Church instituted by 
Christ turns elsewhere, either to listen to the foolish derisions of an 
apostate or to those of his own intellect corrupted by the passions. 
Magdalen considering the perverse heresies of such people, and the 
havoc they make of souls, used to call them cursed, according to the 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. l8l 

language of the prophet incarnate devils, poisoned tongues, trying, as 
far as they could by their words and deeds, to rend and tear the garment 
of Christ, which is the Holy Church. " Our souls ought to be," she 
used to say, " like so many turtledoves, always grieving and weeping 
over their great blindness. " 

No less pain did she feel in seeing Catholics so ill corresponding to 
the principles of faith which they boast of professing. Very often, and 
with very great fervor, she used to pray to God that she might revive 
the faith in the followers of Catholicity, and, with faith, all the virtues 
it begets. In an ecstasy, with feelings of the most bitter anguish, she 
thus expressed herself: "And of what avail is faith to one who profits 
not by it? Sow it, sow it, O Word, living and ardent in the heart of 
Thy faithful ones, after warming and kindling it in the furnace of Thy 
Heart and Thy infinite charity, so that the faith of Thy faithful ones 
may correspond to their works, and their works may correspond to their 
faith. Alas ! unhappy me ! how many shipwrecks in the faith ! But 
why ? Because charity was already extinguished. Thy faith makes the 
journey of the sun ; here it was born, there it sets. And what is the 
sign given of this setting of the sun ? The darkness of the sins which 
are seen committed everywhere." Being stimulated more and more by 
these sentiments, she used to add : " Oh ! that some one would take my 
life and make me shed all my blood, so that this faith, lit up in Thy 
Blood and revived in Thy charity, would be propagated among all those 
who profess Thy faith!" 

With similar love and zeal, she daily recommended to God the 
Holy Church and the Sovereign Pontiff, and saw to it that her disciples 
did likewise. On asking one of the sisters one evening, whether during 
the day she had prayed for the Church and for the Pope, and the sister 
answering No, Magdalen, greatly struck with such lack of zeal, told her: 
* * What sort of a bride art thou who dost not recommend the Church to 
God every day? " Showing by these words that it was a special obli 
gation of nuns to recommend daily the Church to God in their prayers, 
so that His representative may obtain from her children love, confidence, 
and union. The desire for the glory of God became, therefore, in the 
heart of Magdalen one with that for the salvation of souls, in which God 
seemed to have wholly immersed her ; hence, while ecstatic, she spoke 
one day as follows : "Collocavit me Verbum in desiderio q^iod Ipse habuit 
in humanitate sua " " The Word placed in me the wish He had in His 
humanity." And she felt within herself such a zeal that nothing was 
wanting, in the limited capacity of a creature, to imitate that which our 
Divine Redeemer had for the salvation of men. 

This zeal was to the heart of Magdalen both a delight and a martyr 
dom at the same time ; delight, because in her trials, temptations, and 
aridities she found consolation in her being able to offer to God some 
tribute of expiation and intercession for the salvation of souls. One day 
especially, being oppressed by the weightiest anguish, it seeming to her 
as if she were almost forsaken by her Spouse Jesus, at first she thus ad 
dressed Him: U O Word, my Spouse, yet Thou art in me and I in Thee! 
bcme Jesu, why dost Thou not help me?" Repeating many times 
"0 bone Jesu," but without any relief to her painful situation, she had 



182 THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 

recourse afterwards to this desire for the salvation of souls, saying : 
"Sursum corda: habemus ad desiderium salutis animarum omnium 
credentium " " Lift up your hearts : let us burn with the desire for the 
salvation of the souls of all believers." And every temptation vanished 
immediately, her spirit being immersed in light, peace, and joy. On 
the other hand, this zeal was a martyrdom to her, because, as it never left 
her heart, it consumed her day and night. In an ecstasy, speaking with 
God of this desire, she used the expressions of the prophet David alluding 
to the Divine Redeemer : "Desiderium animarum tuarum comcdit me"- 
" Lord, the desire of the salvation of Thy souls has consumed me." 
And shortly afterward she added: "Conserva me, Domine, quoniam in 
desiderio animarum consumpta est anima w^# "- 2 - u Keep me, O Lord; 
as my soul is consumed by the desire for souls." The sisters who con 
versed more intimately with her testified that this desire was so intense 
and continuous in her, that scarcely an hour passed without her mani 
festing it by some word or action. Far from its leaving her memory by 
any exercise whatsoever, it rather happened (and this not seldom) that, 
whilst in company with the other sisters, she would leave suddenly and 
betake herself to the choir or elsewhere, to prostrate herself before God 
and implore the conversion of sinners. 

As to the offenses offered to God by so many ungrateful Christians, 
they were the principal cause of her martyrdom. To make reparation 
for them in some measure, very often she would rise about midnight, 
and going before the Blessed Sacrament, there prostrated, she was wont 
to bewail, with the bitterest tears, the offenses offered by sinners to the 
Divine Goodness, and to humbly plead for their salvation. At the 
times when God is more offended by men, as in the carnival season, we 
have already mentioned how she redoubled her prayers and penances for 
the sinners, and exhorted her companions of the monastery to do the 
same. One night preceding Shrove -Thursday, calling, as usual, all 
the nuns to matin, she asked some to join her, and she and they went 
through the dormitory scourging themselves, and inviting the others to 
praise God and to expiate with penances the faults of men. During 
Lent she also prayed to God with increased fervor, that He would grant 
light and strength to sinning souls, so that they might profit by so 
propitious a time. 

Notwithstanding so great a zeal, Magdalen grieved very much at 
being unable to contribute to the conversion and salvation of others, 
according to her wish. The great work she was already doing towards 
that end seemed nothing to her; hence, in an ecstasy, she complained 
that she could not find anyone to fill the desire of her soul by giving her 
some opportunity of cooperating with such in the good of souls, and 
these were her words: " Consider abam ^ ad dexter am et videbam, et non 
erat qui impleret desiderium animce me<z" u I looked on my right hand, 
and beheld (Ps. cxli, 5), and there was not one that would fill the wish 
of my soul." One day, being found weeping excessively in a remote 
place, and being asked the reason of her tears, she answered : "I weep, 
because it seems to me that I am idle and do nothing in the service of 
God and for the salvation of souls." On being visited by a good servant 
of God, who labored greatly in Florence for the conversion of sinners, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 

and on his telling her of his many troubles in bringing souls to God, 
she on the one hand rejoiced very much at this, but on the other 
hand broke into bitter weeping, considering it to be a great shame for 
her that a lay-person could be so zealous, whilst she, according to her 
way of judging herself, did not do anything in this matter. Often would 
she say to the sisters : " L,et us not permit lay-people to excel us," and 
she would subjoin with great feeling : " We must give an account to 
God, not only of the evil deeds which we shall have committed, but also 
of the good we might have performed and which we omitted. God did 
not separate us from the world that we might be good only for ourselves, 
but that we might help our neighbors with our prayers and penances, 
and appease His wrath against sinners; this is our mission." In order 
the more to enkindle in herself and others the fervor of this desire, she 
used to often repeat: "Who knows but many souls, perhaps, have failed 
to be converted because we have not been fervent in praying to God for 
them?" At other times she used to say, according to the language of 
St. Catherine of Siena, that God complained at not having in this world 
anyone who opposed His wrath and appeased Him ; and she added : 
" We, sisters, must render to God an account for many souls that are 
to-day burning in hell ; for r if you and I had been fervent in prayer, and 
in offering the Blood of Jesus for them, and in warmly recommending them 
to God, He, perhaps, would have been appeased, and they would not be 
in the midst of those torments. Let us offer then, daily, to God the 
Blood of His Divine Son for sinners, and let us undergo any suffering to 
obtain their conversion." As the delight she felt in asking of God the 
salvation of souls comforted her in every tribulation of spirit, so it also 
helped to encourage and comfort her tepid and melancholy disciples ; 
hence, on seeing one of them afflicted, she was wont to speak to her 
thus: "Thou hast not the love of God; why dost thou remain so? 
Thou wouldst do better to think about the salvation of some soul, and 
go and snatch it from the claws of the devil and gain it over to God." 
And she suggested to her some prayer to be recited for this object, 
assuring her that she would obtain everything from God, whenever she 
would supplicate Him with lively faith. " O novices ! " she also used 
to say, "could you see the beauty of a soul in the grace of God, you 
would become so enamored of it that you could do nothing else but ask 
souls of God ; and, on the contrary, were a soul in the state of sin to be 
shown you, you would hate sin more than the devil himself, and pray 
always for the conversion of sinners. 

As an infallible proof of the great zeal of Mary Magdalen for the 
conversion and salvation of sinners, it must be added that she actually 
martyred her body, and asked God always for infirmities and trials, to 
expiate the sins and procure the salvation of sinners. Whatever pun 
ishment they deserved, even if it had been the pains of purgatory, 
she wished it to fall on herself. And going farther, she came even to 
offering herself spontaneously to God to stay in hell to suffer for the 
salvation of others, provided she would not there curse and blaspheme 
His Divine Majesty. Hence she once said in an ecstasy, that if a person 
were to be sent to hell (without offending God), for the sincere con 
version of a soul, he should glory in it, as this all tends to the pure 



184 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

honor of God ; so great was the esteem in which she held the salvation 
of souls. For this work she postponed not only all her temporal, but 
also her spiritual interests ; hence when opportunity was offered her to 
help some soul in jeopardy, she did not hesitate to give up not only 
every comfort, and frequently the very necessaries of life, but also her 
prayers and other devout exercises ; and for this end also she often pro 
tested to God that she would very willingly submit to being deprived 
of every spiritual sentiment and taste and left only with her will, by 
which she might love and serve God alone. 

Besides the above-described five years of probation, which show 
how far God answered this desire of His faithful servant, we will see 
later how her desire was complied with now by means of serious and 
long illness, now by means of trials and desolations of spirit. Neverthe 
less this thirst of ^ hers was never quenched ; nay, the more pains she 
endured for this end, the more she wished to endure ; and, as one enam 
ored of suffering, she was wont to say it was her sovereign consolation 
to suffer, and called this her glorious pain. In an ecstasy she also de 
clared that, on the contrary, not to suffer was to her a great torment, 
meaning that it was a greater torment for her soul to be deprived 
of suffering for the conversion of sinners, than the enduring of any 
suffering, no matter how severe ; as in this she felt so much delight, 
that it overcame any pain. At another time, being also alienated 
from her senses, on fervently recommending to God the salvation of 
souls, she was heard to say : * * For whom at all hours and at all moments 
I would willingly suffer martyrdom, and, if it were possible, even a 
thousand deaths. . . . Oh ! how happy and fortunate would I not be, were 
I granted this grace I so much wish for!" Another day, feeling the 
same desire of being martyred for the salvation of souls, she said : 
"Martyrdom would not be martyrdom to me, but a paradise." On 
various occasions she also said that she wished she could die a thousand 
times, in order to be able (rising each time) to give life to a thousand 
souls. One morning in particular, being inflamed with this holy fervor, 
she took the Crucifix in her hands, and with the greatest ardor of 
charity, thus said to Him : " Thou, O Lord, hast wanted to die on the 
cross and give all Thy blood for sinners; I, too, O my God, would like to 
give my blood and be deprived of life, that they might be converted." 
Once, in prayer, God showing Himself to her as angry with sinners, she, 
wishing to assuage His anger, addressed to the Divine Word these 
forcible words : " O Word, why dost Thou not make me taste hell and 
lose my life, so that, at least partially, the wrath of Thy Father may be 
appeased? " In a word, she never was without these ardent desires ; so 
that like St. Paul, in the excess of charity for the salvation of other souls, 
she postponed her own, and the glory of her soul to theirs ; hence in 
a rapture, asking of God the conversion of some persons, she emphatic 
ally said : " Lord, unless Thou gran test me the grace of giving me these 
souls which I ask of Thee, I will say that I do not want to come and 
enjoy the glory Thou hast prepared for me." In another ecstasy she 
protested that if our Lord had asked her, as He did St. Thomas Aquinas, 
what reward she wished for her labors, nothing else would she have 
asked Him but the salvation of souls. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 185 

Though this zeal was a spontaneous and natural consequence of that 
divine flame which was burning in her heart, yet she omitted not 
to apply herself to those peculiar reflections which were most apt to pro 
mote it in her and make it of the greatest efficacy in others. First, she 
considered the love God bore and bears to souls, how much the Divine Son 
suffered for them on earth, and that they are the inheritance given by 
the Eternal Father to Jesus Christ. Afterwards, she thought how 
beautiful a thing is a soul in the state of grace, how God likes it, and 
how great a good it is for the soul itself. On the other hand, she would 
reflect how ugly and horrible is a soul in mortal sin, and what a bad 
state it is to be in. She plunged herself so deeply in these and the like 
thoughts, that she often merited in her ecstasies to see souls in one or 
the other of these states the beauty of those in the state of grace, and 
the horrible appearance of those in the state of sin. 

To proceed on this subject, putting it all in one chapter, it is neces 
sary to show here at greater length by what anguish her soul was oppressed 
at the sight of the grave and multiplied offenses which men offer to God, 
without her having any hope of stopping them, as she wished with an 
immense desire. In an ecstasy in which God showed to her the hearts 
of sinners, she broke out in these words: "Who will be able to take 
away so much malice from the hearts of creatures? It is certain that no th 
ing less than Thy charity and goodness, O my God, is required. . . . Ah! if 
I were made worthy of giving my life for the salvation of Thy creatures, 
and in order to remove so much malice, what a comfort it would be to 
me ! A great thing it is to live and yet to die continually. Oh ! what a 
great torment it is to see that I might be of some benefit to Thy 
creatures, by laying down my life, and yet I cannot do it!" And feeling 
herself consumed by this zeal, she used to say: "O charity, thou art a 
file, which, little by little, consumest the soul and the body, and 
constantly feedest the soul and the body." 

She detested the malice of men with the following expressions : 
( Alas ! these men, so full of malice, seem to me not men but demons. 
And what do the demons practice but malice ? Their exercise is nothing 
but malice in order to deceive truth." Unable to bear the sight of so 
much iniquity in creatures, she used to say: " Whither shall I go? 
Whither shall I turn, O my God, so that I shall not see Thee 
offended? Everywhere, everywhere I see malice abounding." And, 
praying for the conversion of sinners, she used to repeat: U O Father, 
O Word, O Spirit, O Triune and One God, grant light to every 
man, so that by it everyone may know, and partially, at least, com 
prehend his malice." Feeling the ardent desire to cooperate with this 
conversion also, she continued : " Grant me the grace that I may satisfy 
for them by laying down my life for them, if necessary." As the zeal 
by which she was replenished proceeded from that pure principle which 
cannot league itself with the sinful desires of selfish man, and knows no 
other end but justice and truth, she did not like to be alone in this holy 
work, but wished all the servants of God to unite with her, hence she 
fervently prayed to the L,ord that He might grant to them also the 
desire she felt "for the salvation of souls ; and, not finding it in others 
according to her zeal, with feelings of great affliction, she thus expressed 



l86 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

herself: " Oh ! why cannot I communicate it to them, so that all, and I 
with them, might give satisfaction to Thee, O my God, for all the offenses 
which are offered to Thee? Though Thy goodness alone can satisfy 
Thyself, yet it would be of some alleviation to me. " Knowing the cause 
of so little zeal to be generally ignorance concerning the offense towards 
God, she was wont to exclaim : " O malice of creatures, how little 
and by how few art thou comprehended ! Good God ! it is not under 
stood ! Many say that Thou art offended ; but they know not and do 
not comprehend what offense is. Well did she understand the gravity 
of offending God, and so much so, that in seeing the sins of the world, 
as they were often shown her by His Divine Majesty, she suffered exces 
sive and extreme pains. Thus during that rapture in which Jesus 
espoused her, being terribly assailed by great tortures, she repeated from 
time to time: " Circumdederunt me dolor es mortis; dolor es infer ni cir- 
cumdederunt me. Comedit me dolor inferni,pr(Z multitiidinem iniquitatum 
nostrarum" "The sorrows of death surrounded me" (Ps. xvii, 5). 
4 The sorrows of hell encompassed me " (Ibid. 6). * The sorrow of hell 
has eaten me up, on account of the multitude of our iniquities." And 
on account of the oppression she felt, she breathed heavily, and, with 
sighs mingled with sad tears, threw herself on the floor, shuddering, 
whilst a convulsive tremor shook her limbs and the paleness of death 
appeared on her countenance. "O L,ord, I can stand it no longer," she 
said with a faint voice, " and if sinners do not want to remove from them 
selves so many sins, remove from me, I beg Thee, the sight of such 
iniquities, as I can bear it no longer. n And she remained one hour and 
a half in this most intense affliction, uttering many other words in 
detestation of the monstrous ingratitude of man. In another ecstasy, 
she went so far as to say : " Oh ! if there once would be an end, O my 
God, to the offenses which are offered to Thee ! Oh ! if for once, the 
cursed demons had no occasion to trouble me with the sight of the sins 
of men ? But what ? It would be too much. I would have a foretaste 
of paradise. Thou wilt always, O my God, that the gall of temptation 
may be ever mixed with the sweet honey of Thy grace." 

It must also be noted that this great and excessive affliction at the 
sight of the sins committed, which she deemed the greatest of all the 
many sorrows she endured during her life, she had also to bear very often, 
since, during those five years of her probation, the devils used it as their 
chief instrument with which to torture her soul ; and after that period of 
time, God permitted her often to see such sights, so that by the anguish 
they caused her she might, to some extent, satisfy for the sins of others, 
and be more and more inflamed and induced to pray for divine mercy, and 
to do special penance for sinners themselves. Moreover, to grieve for 
the offenses offered to His Divine Majesty was her daily exercise, as she 
protested every morning that she wanted to do it with the greatest inter 
est. In consequence of this zeal she regretted also seeing so little of it 
in her neighbors, and especially the superiors, of whom she was wont 
to say that they ought to be thirsty and anxious for the love of God and 
the salvation of souls, even as the deer pants after water ; and not per 
mit them to perish, through their lack of interest, and fall into the infer 
nal pit, by not wishing, through human respect, to displease them by 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 187 

zealous correction. " Oh ! how hateful before God," she ecstaticly ex 
claimed, such dissimulation is ! though He wishes that in our hearts 
we feel compassion for the faults of others, nevertheless He likes and 
wishes also that those who are bound by their office be zealous and 
severe in chastising the faults, that the hearts may be purified from the 
cockle and remain pure wheat, worthy of being stored in the barn of 
God in life everlasting." And she added : "If severe justice were thus 
practiced with sinners, oh ! how much greater assistance would be 
rendered to the Church of God than is now done !" 

Another time also, in a rapture, God having manifested to her the 
coolness of many superiors in correcting and punishing delinquents, she 
exclaimed : Ah ! how many do I see, who under the cloak of mercy let 
many of their own faults go unpunished, together with those of their sub 
jects and inferiors ! and for this they expose themselves to the great danger 
of going to hell." Turning to God, she thus continued : " What greater 
cruelty can there be than to have mercy for offenses which are offered to 
Thee, without resorting to means which would show the grievousness 
of these very offenses, and obtain repentance and amendment in the 
sinners?" 

In another ecstasy, speaking in the person of the Eternal Father, she 
strongly complained of the human respect some priests have in repre 
hending and correcting ; and being desirous of showing that this was 
the principal cause of so much malice being found in men, she made 
use of the following expressions : " Even my christs do not attend to 
their work, and do not open their eyes to see what is their duty to 
correct and amend, permitting poor souls to fall into faults, sins, and 
blindness, so that they sink into the abyss of all miseries and unhappi- 
ness." In order to inflame herself and move others to this zeal for 
fraternal correction, she used to reason as follows : " If I love a sister, I 
am bound, though I might be engaged in the praises of God, to leave 
them and go to render assistance to her in her needs ; and if bound to 
do this in exterior things, much more am I bound to enlighten her and 
warn her about her fault, which is an interior need of the soul, more 
important by far than the exterior one. And if in order to help the 
body I would stay up one night, or two, or as many as required, much 
more, if I felt love for my neighbor, I should not regard it as a labor to 
pass one or two nights in weeping for a fault, though a very small one, 
of my sister ; > (which in fact she did). 

God, who in His immense goodness, delighted in seeing in the 
heart of this holy maid the zeal infused by Him so well cultivated, 
condescended many a time to make known to her by supernatural 
means how pleasing it was to Him to be appeased towards sinners by 
the offering on their behalf of the Precious Blood of His Divine Son ; 
and how, on the contrary, it was displeasing to Him that so few engaged 
in such an office. We shall see in its proper place, viz. , in the Works, 
the description and the effect of this. In the meantime let these two 
most important truths, from which originate so many misfortunes fatal 
to human society, be a lesson to us. One is the pertinacity and arro 
gance of him who maliciously sins, and, being plunged into his wicked 
habits, places these above all things sacred, convenient, civil. The 



l88 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

second is the negligence, the indolence, and the weakness of him 
whom God or men has placed over others, and who thinks but of feeding 
caprice and ambition in himself. The condition and the consequences 
of both were justly bewailed by our Saint. The wicked, who, hav 
ing freely given themselves away to all the passions, plunge with 
insolent audacity into a criminal career, harm themselves more than 
others; for, being condemned by public opinion, their triumph over 
the just man cannot be but the consequence of brutal force, or of an 
effervescent seduction, which, if able to contaminate the heart, cannot 
cloud the intellect. But those especially, who, being seated upon a 
prominent seat and having the scales of equity entrusted to them, 
neglect the exercise of the administration committed to them, by not 
giving to every one justly what belongs to him, encourage the wicked 
to usurp and cheat, urge the sinner to plunge himself more into sin, 
paralyze the just and the innocent man into a painful inaction. In the 
silence and ill-support of the truth on the part of those who have the 
official trust of it, others see, at least, a connivance with the darkness, 
the error, the crime ; from this follow the total ruin of social order and the 
irreparable loss of so many souls, caused by him who did not know how 
or would not guide others on the road of justice and truth, though he 
was bound to do it. Jesus Christ, the true and only ruler and guide of 
the human family, furnished us with the description of such people in 
the person of the mercenary shepherd. " He," says Christ, " who 
cares but for his interest and profit, and lives in the fold but to butcher 
the sheep and feast on their flesh-meat, when he sees the wolf coming 
towards the flock saves himself, abandons the sheep, and runs away ; 
then the wolf, being left free, snatches or scatters the flock." 

The law sanctioned by nature and revelation is above all men. He 
who administers it is subject to it, the same as he who is but its servant. 
The force of duty is equal in both ; or, rather, the former is under greater 
obligation, as being bound to account for himself and for others. Hence 
he who administers will only be a good shepherd when, having entered 
into the fold, according to the evangelical phrase, by the door that is, 
legitimately will keep his sheep, viz., the people, subject to him, so as 
to correct and punish with the most efficacious energy those who trans 
gress, and protect and reward those who are deserving of it, and, as the 
last proof, will lay down his life for his sheep when the enemy thrusts 
himself into the flock to scatter it. Justice free from the least excep 
tions is the only foundation of good social order. Let superiors 
be animated and inflamed with the zeal of this virtue; let them practice 
it without regard to all persons and firmly, both in rewarding and 
punishing their subjects, and no reasonable man will regret it. Let 
them give it all their thought and study, even their life, if needs be. By 
so doing their supreme mission will be fulfilled, and there will be no 
cause to lament with Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi so many human miseries. 
But, unfortunately, if 

A sovereign hence behooved, whose piercing view 
Might mark at least the fortress ; l 

1 The best commentators of Dante by fortress understand justice, as the virtue 
which is most needed in a prince for the public weal. Justice begets and establishes peace. 








She foretells the elevation of Cardinal Alessandro de Medici to 
the Sovereign Pontificate (page 121). 

1 88 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 189 

yet it is very difficult to find a faithful performer of his duty. If deter 
mined to find out some trace of constant equity, we will find it only in 
those States (though somewhat languishing) and in those religious Con 
gregations in which justice is impartially administered by the superiors, 
who provide in every case, as faithful guardians and unchangeable repre 
sentatives of the laws. But, taking mankind as a whole, we are forced 
to exclaim also with the divine poet : 

. . . Laws indeed there are : 
But who is he who observes them ? None ; not he, 
Who goes before, the shepherd of the flock, 
Who chews the cud but doth not cleave the hoof. 
Therefore the multitude, who see their guide 
Strike at the very good they covet most, 
Feed there and look no further. Thus the cause 
Is not corrupted nature in yourselves, 
But ill-conducting, that hath turned the world 
To evil. Dante s (Carey Trans.) Purgat., XVI. 




190 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 




CHAPTER XXIX. 




HER SEVERE PENANCES AND THE EFFICACIOUS PRACTICE OF HER 
ZEAL IN BEHALF OF SOULS, ESPECIALLY OF THOSE COM 
MITTED TO HER CARE IN HER MONASTERY. 



Y reason of the sublime variety preordained by the Divine 
Wisdom in the heavenly Jerusalem, not all the Saints have 
received the palm of martyrdom ; but they all ardently 
wished for it and tried to obtain it in themselves by the 
means which they had at hand. Martyrdom is, truly, that 
act of religious heroism which shows the greatest perfection 
of a man in his religious faith. But this is none the less 
proved by continuous and loyal acts tending to this same 
end. Thus in the Christian Religion the constant and unchangeable life 
of mortification and penance which holy and devout souls are wont to 
lead, is equivalent to a true martyrdom and eminently evinces the per 
fection of the follower of Christ. 

Of the torments with which Magdalen treated her body, thus sub 
duing its senses, we have already said not a little ; so that it remains 
only just to touch here upon it, making but a short addition to the facts 
above related. We repeat then, first, that her throwing herself naked 
among thorns was a kind of martyrdom, together with the other severe 
penances which she practiced in order to conquer the impure temptations 
by which she was molested. Though from the twenty-first year of her 
life, by a singular privilege of our Blessed L,ady, she was never subject to 
feelings or imaginations of impurity ; and though the pure candor of her 
innocence was never sullied by a voluntary sin, yet, as long as she lived, 
she continued with a constant, nay, a progressive austerity in the ingen 
ious manner of chastising her body. All this may also be said to have 
been directed to expiate the sins of others, as she herself was not guilty 
of anything which might deserve such severe treatment. Which is 
also well confirmed by her very ardent zeal for the salvation of souls. 

Recalling then to memory her penances of the year 1587, during 
which she was covered by the Blessed Virgin with the white veil which 
delivered her from the impure stimulus of the flesh, she having, from 
the year 1585, subsisted simply on bread and water, except on Sundays, 
when she used Lenten food ; she continued the same method till the 
year 1590. This year, her probation being over, by divine will she 
mitigated such austerity of fasting, taking the community meals on 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 191 

Sundays, and drinking a little wine on Thursdays ; but on the remaining 
days of the week she made use of but bread and water. Thus con 
tinuing until 1592, her superiors noticed that her health had deteriorated 
very much ; hence, for fear of losing her, they suggested to her that she 
should pray to God to permit her to partake of all the community meals. 
Which being done by her, the Divine Goodness condescended to satisfy 
the wishes of those who had the health of our Saint so much at heart, 
and Mary Magdalen, submitting to the divine inspiration, adapted her 
self completely to the food of the monastery; so that, having been 
remarkable till then for the peculiarity of her life, she became exemplary 
in conforming herself to the common meals with the rest. Always very 
sparing and modest in taking what was offered to her, she was wont to 
refuse the most delicate viands, taking instead the most coarse and gross 
ones, making believe, with ingenious virtue, that she relished more the 
latter than the former. This she practiced till death. 

From the same year, 1587, till 1590 she went barefooted. On account 
of the delicacy of her flesh and of her working in the kitchen (in doing 
this work in winter time she exposed herself in the orchard to snow and 
ice) she suffered so intensely that her feet were wounded and sore 
and bled copiously. Her flesh became livid, and at times she trembled 
so that she was unable to articulate a word ; but, never satiated with 
suffering, one day she remained thus barefooted for many hours on the 
snow praying. From the year 1590 till her last illness, by obedience 
she put on her shoes and slippers, but never the stockings ; and for 
three years previous to 1590 and afterwards until said sickness, she 
never wore more than one tunic and it became worn out and thin ; so 
that every winter she caught very severe colds. 

From the year 1581 till her last sickness she slept in her habit upon 
a straw-bed, and very often on the bare floor. Her rest was very short ; 
and when she protracted it to five hours, she deemed it excessive. Not 
seldom she passed the night without taking any rest at all, but spent it 
in prayers or exercises of pious charity towards her sisters and for the 
benefit of the monastery. And if during these exercises she felt herself 
sometimes constrained to take some rest, she would rest for not more 
than half an hour, leaning her head against something. 

Besides the woolen tunic which, according to the rule of the mon 
astery, she wore during all her lifetime, she sometimes also wore on her 
bare skin an iron belt, sometimes the hair- cloth, and sometimes the 
belt of nails she herself had made. She would very often discipline 
herself with various instruments, but mostly with an iron chain weigh 
ing about three pounds ; and she would do that for whole hours ; so 
that being often heard by some sister, who feared lest she should shatter 
herself by this hard and prolonged rigor, she would call in the supe 
rioress or the mistress of novices, that they might come and stop her. 
Of this the mother Sister Evangelista del Giocondo left a special testi 
mony, declaring that she found her many a time in the act of most 
cruelly scourging herself, her flesh livid and bleeding, and even the 
floor and the walls of the room besmeared with blood. To these cruel 
torments she added others which her indefatigable and insatiable zeal 
suggested and prompted her to invent. It was principally remarked 



192 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

that on lighting a candle, she used to let some of the melted wax 
drop on her hands and feet, which would be skinned thereby, and she 
would sometimes be made lame for some days. She would also press 
her flesh with iron pincers until the blood would flow. In the fervor of 
prayer, like another St. Jerome, she was wont to strike her breast with 
a stone. She would gather up a quantity of nettle in the orchard, and, 
bringing it into her cell, she would rub it over her body. During the 
time that she went around with shoes or slippers, that the feet might 
not be without their martyrdom, she used to break some dry cypress 
berries, and, placing them in her shoes, she would walk about as usual, 
with great pain. In a word, she regarded her body as a vile beast of 
burden, as the ground which we tramp upon. She loaded it with all 
sorts of toils, and reduced it almost to the exhaustion of its last degree 
of strength. 

Now, if so delicate and young a maid, and so innocent withal, was 
wont to treat herself so cruelly, it must be repeated that she did it not 
only to preserve, increase, and purify her love for her God, but also to be 
of benefit to her neighbors, by trying to soothe the wrath of God, satisfy 
His Divine Justice, obtain the conversion of sinners, the deliverance of 
the souls in purgatory, and the like graces. The love of God was cer 
tainly the greatest mover and the primary object of all her actions ; but 
as it is impossible to love God without loving our neighbor also, because 
God s love and our neighbor s naturally join and become one, therefore 
this beautiful soul, as she had the love of God in a supreme degree, so 
she had also and practiced that of her neighbor. Being prevented from 
going around the world to convert souls to God, and unable to satisfy in 
any other way the ardent desire she felt of doing so, except by means of 
private penances ; besides the severe exercise of these, as we have related 
so far, she would try to put in practice all her zeal for the salvation and 
perfection of all her companions in the monastery. To all, as needs be, 
she tried to become useful, now with prayer, now with counsel, now 
with advice and lessons, now with reproaches, but always and especially 
with her example. She used to notice the spiritual needs of each sister 
so accurately that the most zealous and learned spiritual director could 
not have known more in that matter ; and so efficaciously did she try 
to provide for the needs she had noticed, that there was not an ignorant 
sister, who, desiring to receive her help, would not be enlightened ; none 
afflicted, who would not be consoled; none discouraged, who by her help 
would not be strengthened ; none imperfect, that she would not correct 
and oblige to amend ; and none desirous of doing good, that she would not 
encourage. So that of all those with whom she lived in religion, there 
was not one who did not receive from her some particular assistance, 
besides the general help she gave to the monastery and the community. 
She spared no labor or inconvenience, and she even forgot her food, her 
rest and all other bodily necessities, to assist in some way the spiritual 
needs of some of her companions. To be of some benefit to souls, she 
thought it proper to omit even her prayers and forego every spiritual 
delight; and she held such charitable work. in greater esteem than all 
the ecstasy of spirit which she might have had. She gave this reason 
for it : " In the ecstasy God helps me ; but in helping my neighbor I 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 193 

help God." To have a better chance to instruct and enlighten, she pre 
ferred to converse with simple persons, as the minor novices and the lay- 
sisters. And whenever her parents would send either male or female 
servants, or peasant maids to visit her, or when for any other business 
of the monastery she was offered an opportunity to speak to this class 
of persons, or to children, she would always give them some salutary 
souvenir and lesson. 

The mothers of the monastery, having from the beginning discov 
ered the useful and extraordinary disposition with which the spirit of 
Magdalen De-Pazzi was endowed, resolved to give her the opportunity 
of employing it, and the community the advantage which undoubtedly 
would be derived therefrom. Hence, no sooner was the time ended, 
during which, after the novitiate, one must remain under another mis 
tress, in the juniorate, she was made pedagogue, that is, companion of 
the mistress of novices, at the youthful age of twenty-three years. 
Prompt to obey, she accepted this office ; but in her humility she feared 
much, deeming herself unable to keep watch over the new little plants 
of the Religion, especially because she could not devote to it all the 
diligence she wished, in consequence of her still suffering the five-years 
trial, during which she was so distracted and troubled. Notwithstanding 
this she completely fulfilled the task entrusted to her, and with great 
profit to the novices ; so that on account of her success during the three 
years she exercised this office, when she reached the age of thirty-three 
she was elected mistress of those who come out of the novitiate, and 
overseer of those who entered the monastery intending to become nuns. 

Having passed, with great satisfaction to all, three years in these 
two offices, she was immediately chosen mistress of novices, which office 
requires the greatest delicacy of conscience and the most exact perspi 
cuity of spirit, and imposes the gravest and most momentous responsi 
bility before God and the Religion. The love and interest that Magda 
len cherished for these souls committed to her, the zeal for their salvation 
and perfection, the wonderful ways by which she instructed and exercised 
them in the way of God, are not easy to tell, as it is very difficult to 
make those understand them who have not been eye-witnesses. To the 
very nuns who, having lived with her, gave testimony of what they saw, 
after relating many things it seemed as if they had said nothing, in com 
parison to what they had seen. They strongly asserted that the love 
which Magdalen showed, and in fact felt, for the persons entrusted to 
her care, surpassed that of any mother. For, it being free from those 
vicious excesses to which nature is wont to carry mothers in moments 
of carnal or maternal fervor, the charitable love of Magdalen was always 
even and smooth in its intensity, always pure and upright in its aim. 
She herself would protest to the young ladies in her keeping, that she 
loved them with more than maternal tenderness. Hence, she used to 
watch over each of them with most efficient solicitude ; and not only had 
she at heart their spiritual needs, but their corporal ones as well, as 
if she were the most tender of mothers. On discovering some of their 
needs, either she immediately provided for them herself, or saw that the 
superioress d d so. If anyone was too timid to ask anything or to manifest 
her troubles or needs, the Saint gave her courage and attended to her with 



194 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

a more watchful eye, and made her companions watch her also, that noth 
ing would be wanting for her comfort. She mended and cleaned their 
habit^ ^y. was always ready to lend any other charitable service needed 
at th e. She lightened their labors, and saw particularly to it that 
they e equally glad and cheerful both in prosperous and in contrary 
things. If one of them fell sick, it is hard to tell with how much charity 
and kindness she stood around her to wait on her, to nurse her, and 
render her all possible assistance. She saw no affliction of spirit or body 
in those daughters that she did not feel in herself as her own; and she 
wished to free them altogether from it, in order to take on herself all 
the pains of others. "Ah ! if I could but free thee from these pains," 
said she, with an accent of extreme desire, " how willingly would I do 
it!" If sometimes, even in the middle of the night, whilst resting on 
her straw-bed, weakened by her labors, she heard any of them moaning 
or complaining, she arose at once and ran to the side of the patient, in 
order to afford her opportune assistance; and both to her and to all 
she was wont to say, in a beseeching way, that they should not at 
all spare her, and in whatever need it might be, they should call her 
freely, waking her up even at midnight. She would have very promptly 
gone to all; as she always did with a truly jovial disposition, free, at the 
same time, from all partiality. If, finding herself waiting in the night 
on some sick nun, she was asked by her to go and take rest, she would 
reply: il Sister, if thou needest me, I will stand here oh my feet till 
to-morrow morning, and, I trust in God, it will not hurt me in the 
least." 

Once, as a reason for the tenderest love she bore to the sisters and 
particularly her disciples (whom she loved more than their natural 
mothers), she alluded to the words uttered by St. Paul in one* of 
his Epistles: "Your mothers bring you forth into this world but 
once, but I bring you forth to God thousands upon thousands 
of times with pain ; as I feel like yourselves whatever sorrows 
and afflictions I know you to feel." At other times she declared that 
she felt such a particular love because these souls were by Religion 
entrusted to her care, and she knew that in working for them she was 
sure to do the will of God. Moreover, it seemed right to her that 
they should be treated with this, and, if it were possible, with a greater 
love, for the good of their own souls and of the Religion, in order that 
they might become attached to the Order ; hence, she was wont to say 
to the sisters : "These daughters come from the world, leaving father 
and mother and all the advantages of the world ; hence, it is necessary 
that they should find in the Religion someone who may induce them to 
willingly embrace the labors of the same." And to the novices: 
Daughters, you have left one mother and have found many; you have 
left a few sisters and have found here a great number of them, who will 
love you better than your parents, as they will love you in charity and 
in God, which surpasses, by far, natural and carnal love." Thus she 
endeavored with all possible care to divest their spirit of earthly affec 
tions, raising it to the celestial ones which are professed and followed in 
the Religion by those who, being called in by God, lead a life faithful to 
the supreme light. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 195 

With a view at the same time to the advantage of the monastery, 
and thinking, therefore, of the good or evil consequences which may 
result to the same from the good or evil qualities of the young, when 
ever a girl entered therein, the Saint minutely observed her steps, her 
movements, and all her external deportment, in order to find out whether 
her tendencies and interior qualifications fitted her for the Religion; and, 
to this end, she particularly studied the docility of her intellect and the 
flexibility of her will ; and, in these, she shrewdly exercised the young 
postulant on every occasion. Neither did she, for desire of increasing 
their number, hide from them the rigors of the Rules ; but there was 
no regulation of the monastery, nor rough and laborious work of the 
community, even of but probable occurrence, that she did not show to 
them with an unexceptionable sincerity, which leads us to the follow 
ing remarks: Some think it to be the custom of the Religious, that 
rather than to manifest the hardships of their state, in order to raise 
a desire for it in those who ask to be received, they entice them 
with the captivating ease of a life not only free from human troubles, 
but also firm in its tranquil existence, besides possessing the most 
valid and rich hopes for the life to come. The young person thus 
may give herself merrily up to a bond now considered of extreme light 
ness, and which, known afterwards and felt to be of enormous binding 
force and weight, will make the young person succumb as a victim of 
despair in the religious house, or return to the world a useless, rest 
less, and sad being. If of this last alternative society has plenty 
of cause to complain, finding itself troubled by elements so hetero 
geneous, Religious must not be blamed for it as much as if they had 
failed to make known to their postulants the state which they were about 
to embrace. All of them hold it as a constant and essential custom to 
give to those who wish to receive their habit, the rules and constitu 
tions of the Order, that they may read and know them all, and to explain 
the spirit and the aim of it, the customs, and everything else that may 
have been afterwards introduced into them. Ill corresponding to the 
vocation is the ordinary origin of the sad results in those who vowed 
themselves to God by a solemn promise. Hence, whilst we recommend 
to the rulers of religious communities the most severe circumspection in 
order to satisfy themselves of such vocations, we tell them to employ all 
their zeal in preventing anyone from falling away from the heavenly 
call. A longer trial and a wiser age is, of course, the wish of most 
people to test the religious vocation. This is practiced in some States 
of secular dominion, and in a manner yet more praiseworthy and useful 
in the Venerable Society of Jesus, which, being able to glory as one 
of the foremost Orders because of the number of its members, has also the 
satisfaction, on the other hand, of having to deplore far less than any 
other the falling away of those who have solemnly joined it. The sagacity 
with which the Jesuits study and test at length their alumni before they 
admit them to the vows, and their promptness in getting rid of them if 
a doubt supervenes about their vocation, is the reason why one of them 
very seldom lays down the habit after having made solemn vows. 

Magdalen, who in all that was possible to her, modeled herself on 
the spirit and practices of St. Ignatius and his sons, during the time 



196 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

fixed by her Order for the probation of the young postulants, exhausted 
all industries, so that if not in the duration, at least in the chief maxim, 
she might do as is done by the Jesuits. Not only did she open her eyes 
well on the novices, but wished them also to open their own and wholly 
on the new state they were to embrace ; and on their giving sign 
of the least dissatisfaction, she was wont to say frankly to them : u If 
you do not like this mode of life, you may choose another place, as here 
we wish to go on in the manner which you see." On a doubt arising 
about someone s vocation, she was rather inclined to send her back to the 
world, than to make her embrace a state in the choice of which (these 
were her words) the highest degree of liberty and free will is required. 
With greater reason, if she judged anyone positively unfit for the mon 
astery, without regard for human respect she would acquaint the supe 
riors so that there might be no occasion of scandal to the rest. On 
account of the zeal always alive and burning in her heart, whenever a 
well-disposed girl was to receive the habit of the Religion, or a novice 
to make her solemn profession, for many days previous she used to offer 
for this purpose many prayers, penances, and Communions, and she 
asked the rest to do the same. The night preceding the sacred cere 
mony she took no rest, but passed it all in prayer that the new Bride of 
Jesus might obtain her light from the Divine Spirit to know the dig 
nity of the state for which she had been chosen and for grace to effectu 
ally correspond to such a vocation. With all diligence she endeavored 
to make those who had received the habit or made their profession 
attached to the Religion and the customs of the monastery, studying to 
impress in their souls the benefit received from God, and exhorting them 
to be thankful therefor not only to His Divine Majesty, but to the nuns 
also. " Daughters," she was wont to say to the former, "be thankful 
principally to God, and then to all these mothers and sisters who have 
received you ; as, through them, you have received the most precious 
gift that, after baptism, God can bestow on His chosen ones in this life. 
The entering of the Religion means that you are bound by gratitude to 
love and serve all, deeming yourselves unworthy of their company ;" 
and thus she accustomed them to be also respectful and submissive to 
the mothers, which is so necessary in the monasteries. 

God, therefore, who had chosen Magdalen De-Pazzi not only to be 
holy in the fulfillment of her duties, but also to make others holy, endowed 
her with so rare a prudence in bringing souls to perfection, that it was a 
truly wonderful thing to behold. Her fine discernment made her adapt 
herself so well to what was required by the temper of the characters and 
inclinations of the minds under her, that she did not seem to be a mistress 
of all the novices, but she appeared to assume many forms of mistress, in 
proportion to the number of subjects entrusted to her care. She used to 
make, so to say, a minute anatomy of the mind, the passions, and the 
heart of every one, so that she attained such a perfect knowledge of their 
interior dispositions as each of them might know of her own. Hence 
she adopted the most opportune and convenient manner of dealing with 
them serious or affable, rigid or soft, reserved or open as the occasion 
might require ; always preserving, though, equal charity for all and keep 
ing her own soul in the fullest calm of affections. Of the very many things 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 197 

which could be repeated about this prerogative, we will relate here but 
a few, from which, though, it will be easy to infer of what ability our 
Saint was possessed to govern souls. One of the twenty rules God gave 
her was that she should have as many eyes as she had souls to govern, 
which she effected so that the more adult and perfect nuns, besides the 
novices, greatly wondered at it. By a supernatural light she was wont 
to see the souls of all, so that she could make no mistake in the conduct 
she observed towards each of them. Hence she imposed more on those 
who were better able, and compassionated more those who compre 
hended less ; she would show more rigor to those who had greater desire 
and anxiety to learn; and, on the contrary, she encouraged those who 
were remiss of spirit and timid to walk in the way of the L,ord, showing 
them esteem and affection. Thus she would severely reprehend and 
punish one for a light fault, and another, for the same or a graver one, 
she corrected mildly and was patient with her; with some she dis 
simulated, as though she took no notice of anything ; with others she 
conferred charitably; and with others still, she avoided even talking, 
showing herself far different from what she was in reality. But such 
dissimilar dealings were directed by so great a divine light that none 
ever suspected her of partiality or entertained a jealous fear lest others 
were better loved. All declared that she used the mode of direction 
which was most profitable with each ; at the same time that they saw her 
severe and grave with one, benign and piteous with another, looking 
at one with a rigid eye, and thus bringing a burning shame to her face 
and making her lower her head, and turning to another a favorable 
countenance, thus reassuring her and banishing all sadness from her 
heart. She restrained the excessive joy of some, so that it would not 
turn into dissipation ; and she alleviated the sadness of others, so 
that it would not fall into barren desolation. She moderated the too 
fervent ones, and encouraged the tepid ones. Thus she was to all a wise 
and prudent directress, and always in the act either of helping the spirit 
or doing acts of charity towards the body, now for one, now for another, 
now for all together. From everything she took occasion to promote 
sanctity reprehending, humiliating kindly, mortifying, teaching. The 
penances, as a rule, she imposed moderately on those tender plants 
of the great Householder; and if any, stimulated by more fervent piety, 
spontaneously asked for extraordinary ones, she did not always grant the 
permission, thinking that discretion was greatly required in the exterior 
penances, especially for the beginners in the way of the L,ord. She did 
not reprehend anybody if her soul was not altogether in peace ; and if any 
one in resentment answered her with little respect, she limited herself to 
gazing at her with a look of compassionating interest; and afterwards, 
at the moment she considered the most opportune, she proceeded to 
administer the correction so highly did she value rectitude in the 
direction of souls, though the tumultuous motions of irascibility never 
troubled her mind or her heart. She also awaited till the subjects were 
also tranquil before correcting them. She tolerated for several months 
one who, moved by the enemy of all good, was burning with passion 
against her; and, when she saw her better disposed, she made her profit 
ably conscious of her error. She used to give them frequent advice as to 



198 THK LIFE AND WORKS OF 

How to dispose themselves to receive mortification with a quiet and sub 
missive disposition, as she knew this to be of the greatest importance for 
their spiritual advancement. She inculcated in them very frequently 
that the fruit of prayer was to be in a special manner the acquiring of 
the virtue to suffer all that displeases self-love. "When you," said she 
to them, "stop praying, you must be ready to receive any reprehension 
and mortification, let it be just or not; and you must be so firm and fixed 
in God that nothing can disturb the quiet of your soul." Hence she was 
wont to impose the penances and other humiliations as soon as prayer or 
other practices of piety were ended ; both because at that time the soul 
being recollected in God is better disposed to virtue, and because, if any 
one was deemed to have prayed well, she should humble herself in sight 
of her faults, and uproot from her heart self-complaisance, which is 
poisonous to the soul when without the thorns of self-abasement. More 
over, on account of the charity with which Magdalen adorned the rigors 
of the penances or reprehensions inflicted on her subjects, they were 
not saddened, but were rather drawn to love and revere her the more, 
and they used to say: "She is truly a mother to us." Such great 
light and flames did they get from her teachings, that some of them, 
as they declared, would have walked on thorns to hear her, as it 
seemed to them that they heard and saw a spirit of paradise. Some 
thing divine was shining in her eyes, which consoled them even 
when they were reprimanded. Charity and zeal joined to majesty in 
correcting filled the hearts with a holy fear not disjoined from consola 
tion. She herself seemed almost trembling, on account of her great 
humility, in the act of correcting ; and she made others tremble by the 
sacred terror of sanctity transpiring from her countenance. This won 
derful coupling of humility and majesty succeeded admirably in break 
ing the hardness of insubordinate spirits, not rare among young persons. 
She herself performed the penances for her who would not submit 
to them; and this not sufficing, in her presence she knelt before 
another novice, begging her to suggest what could be done to help that 
soul; and in so doing she shed such copious and bitter tears as to 
melt even a heart of stone ; yet her face appeared at the same time 
as majestically illumined as the sky when Iris appears between the 
light and the clouds. Towards a young maid contumacious in her dis 
obedience, arming herself with stronger zeal, she thought of using the 
discipline, striking her in a more humiliating than severe manner; and 
thus she obtained her loyal and sincere amendment. There was not 
anybody, in a word, who could resist her various and opportune man 
ners of leading souls to perfection. She imposed no penance but that 
which she herself first practiced; neither did she ever order anything 
without having first consulted Jesus about it in prayer. Before reprov 
ing any faults in others, she looked at herself very diligently, to see 
if perchance she was likewise guilty of them ; and whilst correcting, she 
was making within herself acts of profound humility, knowing herself 
to be (so she said) more imperfect and less virtuous than the one she 
corrected. Often, after having corrected someone, she went to the 
superioress to humble and accuse herself of having done so, judging 
herself more imperfect. She always had in her heart and mind the 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE PAZZI. 1 99 

Rules that God had given her to guide herself and her neighbors to 
perfection. 

Now it behooves us to describe with how much solicitude she 
instilled in the souls of those who were entrusted to her care the virtues 
which render the Religious perfect and the Religious Orders spiritually 
happy. Charity, above all, she wished to take deep root in those tender 
plants of hers ; that charity for which the holy founders instituted the 
so well-deserving Congregations whose members, satisfied with a short 
sleep, a frugal repast, modest clothing, narrow cells, were to consecrate 
their thoughts, affections, and cares to the benefit of their neighbors; 
or to gather, feed, and educate the abandoned orphans; or to teach 
all liberal and useful sciences to well-born youth; or to go through 
solitary lands to console the labors of the poor farmers, and to draw 
from the wilderness and unknown corners savage spirits to the love 
of humanity and Religion; or again, in the deep snow and ice on 
very high and inaccessible peaks, to retrace with wonderful arts the lost 
travelers, and restore their bodies and their souls; or else to redeem 
with gold, and, where gold does not suffice, with their own person, 
the liberty of the slaves ; or, finally, to assist the asylums of misery, 
attend those infected with pestilence, and receive the sighs of the 
dying. That charity of which the Apostles, leaving in themselves 
so powerful and magnanimous an example, teach us that, without it, 
the regular congregations of persons would be gatherings of idleness, 
greediness, and hypocrisy. St. Paul asserts of himself (he being a man 
of the highest perfection) that if he were to speak with the tongues 
of angels, had the gift of prophecy, penetrated well into the depth of 
mysteries, had such faith in his breast that .he could remove mountains, 
were to give all he had to the poor, and throw himself into the flames 
to burn and be consumed, and yet was without it (the virtue of charity), 
he would be but as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal (i Cor. xiii). 

That charity, therefore, which is the mark of the follower of Christ, 
the bond of every perfection, Magdalen wished to see practiced in a singu 
lar manner by her disciples. Every day, and several times during the day, 
she was wont to repeat to them with St. John: " Daughters, love one 
another, for this is the command of Jesus." She wished them to love 
one another as if born of the same parents ; and she did not wish to see 
any difference between them ; therefore she said always that every one 
was to regard her companions as daughters of the Eternal Father, as 
brides of Jesus, as temples of the Holy Ghost, and as sisters of the angels ; 
and that, when together, they were to deem themselves to be as if in a 
choir of angels, for the virgins are representing them ; and she wished 
their love to be such that whenever they met through the house 
they were to exult with joy in their heart, as if meeting for the first 
time, and to salute one another with words tending to the love of God. 
In order to eradicate from their hearts every root of spiritual envy, or to 
prevent its taking root therein, she taught them always to wish more 
good to their neighbor than to themselves. "If you, daughters," (these 
were her words) " wish for yourselves a degree of grace, ask two degrees 
of it from God for your sisters;" and, giving the reason therefor, she 
added, "because you must deem them more worthy than yourselves, 



2OO THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

and better able to produce more fruit and give more glory to God than 
you would ; and in this manner you will purify your souls from self- 
esteem and any self-interest, and dispose yourselves the better to receive 
the same graces." She trained them to confer mutual favors, exchang 
ing their offices and labors ; and exhorted them to communicate to 
one another their spiritual goods. She used to say that she did not 
like those persons who were good for themselves alone; nay, she affirmed 
that those who are good only for themselves are not good either for 
themselves or for others ; on the contrary, she liked very much those 
persons who were spiritually communicative, and she gave the following 
reason for it : "If you bring forth no fruit out of the graces God bestows 
upon you, by communicating them to others, they might do it." 

One day the novices proposed to practice among themselves a par- 
ticular devotion, which a girl already admitted as a probationer in the 
monastery wished to join, but they would not accept her. On hearing this, 
the Saint severely reprimanded the novices, saying that theirs was no devo 
tion, but self-love, since it did not extend to the charity of their neighbor. 

One was to bear the vexations and the faults of the other with 
great deference, and woe to her who murmured ; the holy mistress did 
not tolerate, in regard to that, the least fault. She well knew that 
speaking against a neighbor is speaking against the law, and de 
tractors, therefore, are hated of God; and that there being but one 
Legislator and Judge of the living and the dead, those who presume to 
condemn others draw upon their heads the most terrible condemnation. 1 
She well knew how the poison of a slanderous tongue is more fatal than 
that of the murderous steel ; for the slanderer by a single act wounds 
both religion and society, and tends to rob the individual of what he 
holds most sacred and precious. Hence if any of her subjects incurred 
even lightly this fault, she would not allow her in the evening to enter 
the oratory with the rest, unless she had previously atoned for it by some 
penance, which ordinarily consisted in the avowal of the fault before the 
other novices ; or, if the murmuring was slight, the Saint was wont to 
impose on the guilty one the making of a cross with her tongue on the 
floor ; and, if more grievous, she would make her lie supine on it 
whilst her companions would dexterously trample with their feet on 
her mouth, or else she would make every novice strike her mouth 
with a discipline. This operation, more humiliating than painful, 
on account of the discretion with which it was performed, produced 
wonderful effect. Neither did she allow one who had some ill feeling 
with another to go to rest herself, unless she had first been reconciled. 
Nay, she had prescribed that twice a day all should mutually ask forgive 
ness of the bad example they had given to one another, and of the little 
love they had borne to one another, which was also a very valuable 
means to beget true love. Moreover, to make them better appreciate 
the wise restraint of speech, she used to say that had she known one who 
had never spoken ill of her neighbor during her life, she would have 
deemed her worthy of being canonized before death. Among the 
remedies she suggested to them, in order that they might avoid fall 
ing into this fault, was the following, viz., to speak very little of their 
neighbor, even for good, " because" (and she often repeated it) "one 



ST. MARY MAGDALKN DE-PAZZI. 2OI 

commences in good but afterwards generally ends in evil." She taught 
that, whenever it was necessary to speak of our neighbor, nothing 
should ever be said in his absence that we would find difficult to repeat 
in his presence. 

The other thing in which she wanted her subjects to exercise them 
selves was prayer, the importance, necessity, and fruit of which she 
daily expounded to them. Prayer, she said,, is a short road to reach 
spiritual perfection ; as in it Christ teaches the soul, and by it the soul 
detaches itself from created things and unites itself to God. "If you 
wish, daughters" (she thus expressed herself), u to acquire in a short 
time great perfection, take the Crucifix as your teacher, and let your ears 
be attentive to His words, as He continually speaks to your heart, 
especially after you have received the Most Holy Sacrament. Give 
yourselves to prayer, as the intercourse with God in prayer makes a person 
care for nothing but God ; let God suffice you, and care not for relatives 
or any earthly thing; as, I assure you, in Him you will find every true 
good and a perfect fulfillment of all your desires." Every morning she 
gave them the points of meditation for the day; and if anyone was 
ignorant of how to meditate, she would place her near herself, instructing 
her by the practice of her own meditation, made in a clear manner, and 
during which she was very often rapt in ecstasy and felt sublime senti 
ments of divine things, to the amazement and profit of her who stood 
near by. Sometimes she called some sister to spend the night with her 
in prayer; and to all she frequently addressed questions as to how and 
with what profit they had meditated; and in many other ways she made 
this holy exercise easy to them. On the approach of the solemnities 
which the Church celebrates during the year, eight or ten days in 
advance she began to make them prepare themselves by means of some 
devout practice of prayer or mortification; which she also performed, 
both to encourage and to instruct them by her example. With the 
same object in view she zealously endeavored to accustom them to be 
prompt, reverent, and devout in the choir, impressing upon them that 
the Divine Office is one of the principal obligations of nuns, and that 
therein chiefly is the Divine Majesty acknowledged, honored, and adored. 
Sometimes before they went to the choir she called them and said to 
them : " Daughters, reflect that till now you have been engaged in 
human acts, dealing with creatures; now you have to perform angelic 
acts, dealing with God Himself;" or: "Consider that this exercise is 
so important that the blessed spirits themselves, whose purity is wonder 
ful, scarcely dare with fear and trembling to perform it ; with how much 
greater reverence must we then assist before the Divine Countenance, 
who are most unworthy creatures?" Moreover, she taught them that, 
before commencing the Divine Office, they should make acts of humility, 
deeming themselves unworthy to praise God with the angels ; and that, 
in order that they might be acceptable, they should offer their praises to 
God in union with those that the blessed spirits offer to Him in the 
Heavenly Fatherland ; " because," she said, " though it is impossible for 
our praises to attain to the purity of those which are presented by the 
blessed spirits to His Divine Majesty, we are by no means forbidden to 
wish to attain to so high a mode of worshiping God." 



202 THE UFK AND WORKS OF 

She also inspired these daughters with the same feeling of God s 
love that she had in reciting the Gloria Patri, thinking she was giving 
up her head to martyrdom for the Christian faith, and other like de 
votions. She was also very attentive to noticing whether the sisters in 
the choir were modest and composed, conforming themselves to the 
ceremonies and the usual mode of reciting the psalms ; and on discover 
ing them wanting in this now with charity and amiability, now with 
severity, as the need might be she corrected them. Once in particular, 
seeing a novice who was paying no attention to the Office, and who did 
not even compose herself after being reproachfully hinted at, Magdalen 
called her out to the middle of the choir and then ejected her, saying 
to her afterwards that she had seen the devil standing around her, 
dancing and leaping, while she distracted herself and paid no attention 
to the beckoning of the mistress. 

In order that the novices might become attached to the recitation in 
common of the Divine Office above any private devotion, if anyone asked 
her permission to leave the choir in order to go and make mental prayer, 
she answered her: "Daughter, it seems to me that I would .deceive 
thee if I granted thee such a permission; because whilst thinking that 
thou dost give greater honor to God, and dost please Him more by this 
private prayer of thine, thou wouldst find afterwards to have merited 
little, as, compared with reciting the Divine Office in the choir with the 
other nuns, every other prayer and private devotion is of little merit in 
the sight of God." Thus she persuaded her to appreciate and follow 
with love the exercises of the choir, to which she wanted all to be very 
prompt and attentive. 

There was in her no virtue which she did not try, as far as she was 
able, to transplant in the souls of those committed to her care. We have 
already seen how Magdalen had at heart the good intention in work 
ing (the root whence an action derives most of its value). Her thought 
had no aim but the divine honor and pleasure. Hence she took the 
greatest care to show her disciples how pleasing to God a soul becomes 
that works with a pure intention ; and how this enhances the value and 
makes meritorious even the least action. She was wont to say that if 
one performed all his actions with the pure intention of giving glory to 
God, he would after death go to heaven without entering purgatory. 
On the contrary, she manifested to her disciples how she detested, like 
deadly poison, the working at random or for any other end but God ; and 
in order that they might persist in the practice of this exercise, often she 
suddenly asked one or the other about the intention they had in the work 
they were then performing ; and, on any of them being found somewhat 
perplexed in giving the answer, this sufficed for the wise and subtle mistress 
to judge that that sister acted at least inconsiderately. Hence she would 
proceed to correct her in the following words : " Dost thou not see that 
thou losest the merit of this action? God takes no pleasure in actions 
done without a good intention." Which spur was very efficacious to 
promote the spiritual profit of the young novices. Afterwards she 
taught them that in order to make their works acceptable to God, they 
should unite them with those that Jesus performed whilst on earth ; and 
she was wont to say that our actions, though good, of themselves alone 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 303 

are, like lead, of little value ; but when united to those of Jesus they 
become like most pure gold. Among the means she suggested for 
acquiring purity of intention, the principal one was to keep the mind 
united to God with holy thoughts and affections, for the exercise of 
which she used the above-mentioned method ; hence, she would ask one: 
"What dost thou think about? Where is thy heart?" and the other: 
"How many times didst thou think of God to-day? What was thy first 
thought after waking up? How many times didst thou thank God 
to-day for having called thee to Religion ? What thoughts hadst thou 
in reciting the Divine Office ? What profit didst thou derive from the 
reading in the refectory?" After they had heard a sermon or an exhor 
tation, she would question them on the profit they had drawn therefrom, 
and also on the sentiments and resolutions of the meditation, especially 
on the days they had received Holy Communion, asking them: " What 
did Jesus tell you within your hearts when you received Him ? How 
many times did you thank Him on this day, Who gave Himself to you 
in the Most Holy Sacrament? " On Thursday and Friday, days which 
she spent in a special feeling of devotion, the one in remembrance of 
the Eucharistic institution, which therefore she called the day of love, the 
other in memory of the Passion, called by her the day of the nuptials, 
she was wont to ask of the nuns the following question: "Did you 
consider what Jesus has done for you on this day?" Thus, according to 
the times and the occasions, she asked them about what passed within 
their hearts ; so that she not only made them vigilant and exercised 
them to work conscientiously and keep their spirits united to God, but 
also accustomed them to lay their hearts and thoughts ingenuously open 
to her, a thing she deemed greatly adapted to attain to Religious per 
fection and free their souls from the frauds of the devil. To this end 
she also wanted them to present themselves every day to tell her their 
faults. Sometimes one of them would object that it was impossible to 
always have the mind united to God ; and to her the Saint would 
answer: " It is true that it is impossible actually to think always of God, 
as this shall be done perfectly but in tjie Fatherland ; it can be accom 
plished, though, viz., to be always united to God, by having Him always 
in view ; as, even if we work for creatures, for the good of their souls or of 
their bodies, and without any other end in view but to give honor and 
glory to God, so that if it were not for God we would not do it, it can 
not be denied that in that manner we are always united to God ; and if 
we labor for the good of Religion, and do it because Religion is God s, 
and what we do, we do only to please and honor and glorify Him, it 
must be admitted that all those who do this are united with God." 

Furthermore, she deemed the observance of silence very opportune, 
nay, even necessary to attain to the union of mind with God, as it is pre 
scribed by the Religions that the soul may reenter into itself and gather 
itself in God ; and she was wont to say that a religious person who has 
no taste for silence cannot by any means taste the things of God. Hence 
she insisted on having silence rigorously kept by all her disciples, and 
with a true religious spirit ; and if any of them failed to do it, besides 
the penance she would impose on her, she herself, who was a perfect 
keeper of silence, would remain some time silent during recreation time, 



204 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

as if to atone for tlie fault of her disciple, saying to anyone who asked 
her the reason therefor : u I want Religion to have its due." She used 
also to teach what thoughts and considerations were to be attended to in 
time of silence, among which was the following, viz. : to consider the 
works Jesus wrought from His I2th to His 3Oth year, whilst He lived a 
hidden life, which works the Evangelists have not made known ; and she 
added that the works done in silence are very pleasing to God that is, 
those which do not appear to the eyes of others; and that it is more 
useful and safer to do great works which appear very small than to do 
those works which are great only in appearance. But, nevertheless, she 
wished all to work with manifest fervor, and that everyone should aim 
at the greatest possible perfection. On discovering a nun who was 
slothful and without fervor, she reprehended her, and, to sting her, she 
said to her that whoever acts coldly in Religion is nothing but a burden 
to Religion, being in need of being supported by Religion, which is the 
reverse of what should be with nuns, who are themselves bound to sup 
port Religion. In order that they might not grow up slothful and negli 
gent, she always kept them busy and never permitted them to be idle. 

Though the life of her monastery was the total observance of a 
perfect religious community, nevertheless, well reflecting on how 
easy it was to fail in regard to the holy vow of poverty, on 
account of the inordinate attachment of humanity to earthly things, 
though these be few and small, she never ceased to enlighten the new 
Religious in regard to the beauty and importance of this vow, show 
ing them how the perfection to which they were called depended 
chiefly upon the full observance of it. She used to try to find out 
to what they were attached, and employed the best means to detach 
them from any earthly object. Therefore, she had prescribed for 
them that they should examine themselves monthly, in order to see 
whether they were inordinately attached to anything, or possessed any 
thing superfluous, on finding which they were to give it up ; and she 
used to say to them that they should rather love to live in need than to 
have anything superfluous, as whatever is wanting a Religious in this 
life will be given to her superabundantly in the next. That they might 
not entertain any affection even for necessary things, she often made 
them exchange habits among themselves, as is done with so much praise 
and profit in the Society of Jesus, and on the strength of this example 
in several other Congregations, especially in that of the Salesians, where 
a nun cannot propose to make use to-morrow of a pin used to-day. 
Magdalen noticed that one of her disciples had an attachment for a little 
book of spiritual exercises, written by her own hand, and she made her 
throw it into the fire. She took from another a rosary, because she had 
too much attachment for it, and only returned it to her six months after 
wards, with the injunction, though, that she should bring it back to her 
every evening ; which was done for some time, that is, until that novice 
learned to hold it as lent to her by the Religion ; as this is the way 
the Religious must hold all things granted them for their use. By this 
means she led her disciples to the love of poverty and, together with it, 
to the mortification of themselves. In regard to this self-mortification, 
considered in its perfect degree, she was wont to tell them, that anyone 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 2O5 

who expects to find satisfaction and consolation in the giving of himself 
to the service of God, deceives himself very much, as God is not to be 
found in the satisfaction, but in the true virtue which has its proper 
place in tribulations, toils, and hardships, and we are to hold in esteem 
only those satisfactions and sweetnesses which animate us to suffer 
willingly for the love and glory of God, and to fulfill His Divine Will. 
She asserted that that ^soul was unworthy of being called a servant of 
God that did not endure and strive for this virtue. Hence, she did not 
trust much to the stability of those souls that appeared to have acquired 
their perfection in peace and spiritual sweetnesses ; because (she expressly 
said) that is not true virtue which is not tried by its opposite, viz., 
temptations and tribulations, as God requires of those creatures who 
wish to serve Him perfect death, without which nothing can be done; 
and anyone who enters rightly into the service of God does nothing but 
in a thousand ways and manners give death to himself at every hour 
and moment. This is the reason she gave for it : "The life of our flesh 
is the delight and pleasure of sensuality; the death of our flesh is to 
deprive it of every delight and pleasure, and to conquer it by means of 
fasts and vigils and austerities. The life of our judgment and will con 
sists in disposing of itself and its things as it pleases ; its death, to subdue 
it always to the judgment and the will of others by means of obedience; 
and thus death is given to the appetite of our reputation and pride by 
continually making acts of true humility and contempt of self, and by 
hiding in order to remain unknown. Such a death must anyone give 
to himself, who truly wishes to serve God ; and he deceives himself who 
thinks he can give himself this death by holding in his mouth the milk 
and honey of interior and exterior sweetnesses; as it cannot be that the 
soul which truly dies in order that God may live in it, does not feel 
pain." On seeing a novice very quiet and tranquil, giving no sign of 
troubles or difficulties, she became pensive, and was wont to say to her: 
" I fear thou mayest have placed thy end in accommodating the exterior 
and forgetting the interior." She added: "Thou must regret as not 
having well spent it, the day in which thou hast not mortified thyself." 
Humility being the foundation of every spiritual edifice, and Mary 
Magdalen De-Pazzi possessing it in an heroic degree, well may we believe 
how much she strove to plant it in the hearts of those girls who were 
coming to serve God in her monastery. As the height of the edifice 
derives its strength from the depth of its foundation, she first of all 
sought to root out of the hearts of her subjects all the ground of self-love 
and human pride. She pretended to have less regard for those endowed 
with more talent and ability, and more apt to take pride in their 
actions, than for others, and when compelled to make actual use of the 
former, she would put them at the more humble and menial occupations. 
This she did in particular with two young ladies, over twenty years of 
age, whom she wished to humble on account of a certain conceit they 
entertained of knowing more than others. She appointed them to read 
in the refectory the children s ABC book. Others of the same disposi 
tion she would order to recite publicly and aloud the Hail Mary, 
or she would have them reprimanded by some of the mothers with 
words indicating that they were considered as of little capacity. When- 



206 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

ever it was necessary to commit to them anything of greater impor 
tance, the Saint used such a prudential way in giving the commission 
that it would exclude even the slightest motive for them to grow proud ; 
and, even after they had perfectly fulfilled the commission, she found in 
their action so many and so great faults that in exposing them they 
were overtaken with shame rather than elated with vainglory, and 
regarded as the mere truth, and not exaggeration, what the holy mistress 
would say, so much was she guided by the Spirit of God in directing 
these souls. Whenever she noticed that anyone considered herself as 
becoming useful, she called her out from the midst of the others, and 
said to her: " This daughter thinks that it was great luck for us to get 
her into our monastery ; but I tell you that she was very fortunate in 
the nuns having been pleased to accept and admit her into it." Some 
times those who came to the Religion, before receiving the holy habit, 
were made by her, though they had on their silk dresses and jewels, to 
wait on the table and kiss the feet of the other nuns. One was very 
sensitive at being reprehended and remarked for her faults, and the zealous 
mother imposed on all the novices diligently to observe all her faults 
and tell her about them ; and she publicly reprehended and corrected 
her. Let us not think for a moment that this practice of the Religious, 
viz., the relating of the faults of others to the superioress, is opposed to 
charity, as those evil-inclined persons would have us believe who get 
hold of anything to blackmail or criticise others. Truth conscientiously 
used can never be opposed to virtue. Paid tale-bearing is a vile thing, 
but the lending of light and strength to those who have to lead their 
flock to the perfection of the spirit cannot be but a praiseworthy and 
useful undertaking. 

At that time a noble girl of nineteen, with great spirit and desire 
for religious perfection, came to the Religion. Having spent a few days 
in the monastery, and presuming too much of herself, or transported by 
youthful fervor, made it known that she found a difficulty in there re 
ceiving the sacred habit, as there were no penances practiced and no 
opportunity to suffer for the love of God. On another occasion, she 
also said that she had come to the Religion in order to be a nun in fact, 
and not in name only, and that she would not perform certain ceremonies 
which they are wont to use when the holy habit is received. The 
holy mother noted both these expressions of opinion, and dissembling 
as to the first, or rather leaving the correction of it to a better time, in 
regard to the second, marked as it was by greater pride and singularity, 
she immediately and severely reprimanded the girl, telling her repeatedly : 
"These are the girls the people of the world think have so much light 
and spirit." Which words were uttered by her with so much emphasis 
that the girl, being overtaken by great shame and compunction, asked for 
giveness for her fault, both of the mother and of the novices. This act 
of submission, though sincere, did not make the holy directress relent 
any in trying, when opportunity offered, to cure the sick spirit of this 
subject of hers. Too important it is to eradicate from the soul of 
youthful persons even the most secret roots of anything vicious, 
in order to plant therein true virtue and with profit. One must not 
become so easily tired of inculcating in youthful souls those virtues 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 2OJ 

which are necessary to them ; nor must one feel satisfied with some act 
which they are performing in relation to them, whilst fervor more than 
reflection moves and transports their operations. Shortly after this girl 
had taken the monastic habit, the holy mother behaved towards her with 
such severity that, by mortifying and punishing her at every little 
occasion, it almost seemed as though she harbored some ill feeling 
towards her. No day elapsed in which she did not cast up those ex 
pressions to her several times; and, more than that, she caused the 
other novices to reprehend and reproach her as the most imperfect and 
faulty one in the monastery. This was serious and hard for the soul of 
that girl to bear ; so that, on seeing herself in such a manner and by all 
found fault with, she could not refrain from crying and grieving. There 
fore, the Saint said to her: " Remember, sister, that thou didst find 
difficulty in selecting this monastery, because great penances were not 
being practiced herein ; " and by this road she led her to the conviction of 
her own error to disillusion, humiliation, and amendment. Though in 
acting towards her with such severity Magdalen s charitable feelings 
would not permit her to leave that girl in those afflictions without any 
consolation, but she often said to her : " Sister, anyone that wishes to 
give herself wholly to God must, before all, give up her own self," and 
the like things. Thus, by pointing out the will of God, the greater 
spiritual benefit, and the eternal reward, she relieved and greatly 
encouraged the downcast spirit of that novice. 

In the civil order, also, it is acknowledged that to start a man 
on the road to honor and equity, it is necessary from the beginning 
to put such a restraint on him as will habituate him easily to submit his 
own judgment and will to the will of others ; by the doing of which a 
person of education is distinguished from an ignorant and uncivilized one. 
This is absolutely required by every educational institution, 110 matter 
whether its religious maxims differ from those of pure Catholicism or 
not. Anyone who has not been placed under restraint in the years of 
his growth cannot prove to be anything but a man of disorder, of scandal, 
of ruin. It is j ust the yoke of abnegation and mortification that Jeremias 
the prophet wishes to see imposed on the young people, not so much to 
make them good citizens as to make them acceptable to God by eternal 
predestination. But our Lord Jesus Christ imposes it on us more openly 
by the fullness and perfection of the law, protesting that he is not worthy 
of Him, and consequently cannot obtain the eternal salvation, who does 
not renounce even his irregular interior sentiments. He declares it to 
be also morally impossible for him who did not bend to right even from 
his tender age. Hence Mary Magdalen employed a great deal of care 
and diligence in subduing the souls of her disciples, whom she aimed at 
leading to the pinnacle of spiritual perfection. She explored their incli 
nations in every way, and, having found them out, without delay she 
ordered them to do things just contrary to them. Hence, whenever she 
found that a person was much inclined to prayer, she sent her to sleep, 
or to some exterior exercises, or to do some work ; and, vice versa, if she 
knew of some who were inclined to exterior exercises, she assigned to 
them prayer or some other interior practice. Thus she imposed simply 
a Pater nosier and an Ave Maria on one who wished to practice many 



THE LIKE AND WORKS OF 

and great penances, and, on the contrary, she imposed heavy mortifi 
cations on those who felt a repugnance towards them. Sometimes 
whilst the nuns were all in the choir, she called upon one of them and 
sent her out to count the rafters of the hall or the cell. At other times, 
she made some of them draw water and throw it back into the well. 
She also commanded some to go to the orchard and catch ants or 
butterflies. One day she ordered a novice to go into the refectory with 
the little tunic alone. She was satisfied at seeing her promptitude to 
obey and her good disposition, and made her dress again. To another 
she prescribed going every day into the orchard, there to learn from the 
trees the manner of praying, and to keep an account of the lessons she 
learned from them. 

We have already said how very often she delayed until a better time 
correcting the faults of her subjects. It, therefore, happened that feign 
ing not to notice sometimes during the day the fault of someone, she 
waited until that one had gone to bed and then had her called, and, 
placing her on her knees before her, she, with severe words, reprehended 
her for having dared to go to bed without first calling herself guilty of 
her fault and humbling herself for it. But correcting the faults of her 
subjects was a small thing with her. What she wanted above all was 
the effect of the correction, which is amendment. In order to help 
them to secure this essential advantage, she ordered them to come to her 
every evening and tell her how many times they had fallen into a fault 
which had once been corrected by her. If any of them appeared before 
her full of shame for her repeated faults, she would cast her away, telling 
her with seeming harshness : "I will lose no time with thee when thou 
wishest not to profit by my advice." And then, suddenly, she would 
call her back and make her confess those repeated faults which she would 
not hear of before ; and, moreover, she would command her to manifest 
what thoughts had passed through her mind whilst she had been so cast 
away. She permitted a novice to go to bed, refusing to hear her, and 
afterwards she called her to humble herself and acknowledge her faults. 
Likewise the good, zealous mother once went to the bedside of one who 
had lain down to sleep before she had been permitted to confess her 
fault, and, having made her rise, led her to the chapel of the novices, 
where, after reprimanding her, she commanded her in punishment to 
remain and sleep on the floor; and with this order she left her, returning 
shortly after to examine her in what she might have said and thought 
in view of such a proceeding ; and having reason to judge her humiliated 
and well-disposed, she permitted her to return to her bed. A girl who 
was on probation in the monastery having risen one morning earlier 
than usual, because she was desirous of attending matin with the nuns, 
was noticed by the Saint, who told her it was necessary that she should 
ask permission of the mother prioress, which she obtained. Never 
theless, as a mistress of novices, she ordered her back to her bed. The 
girl complied, and, having hardly lain down, Mary Magdalen told her in 
a tone of satisfaction : " Dress and come to the choir with us ; I have 
done this to try thy obedience." 

She was also wont to impose a penance and then revoke it at the 
moment it was to be performed being satisfied at seeing the prompt and 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 209 

spontaneous acceptation of the obedience, for which she absolutely re 
quired a cheerful disposition, free from all hesitation. Therefore, she often 
repeated to her young charges that in obeying they should not regard 
the person giving the order, but God in her, and her they should simply 
obey as though she were God Himself; u because," she would say, " you 
did not give up your will to the creature, but to God, and the creature 
stands there to you in God s place;" hence, she told them to obey the 
superioresses that were assigned to them, even though they might be 
lay-sisters, and even if it was a question of things contrary to their judg 
ment, being persuaded that what is commanded is the will of God. She 
also told them to hold humility in great value, as through it wonders 
are wrought; which in fact was experienced by several of them, and 
particularly by the one she had sent, as we said above, to learn the 
exercise of prayer from the trees of the orchard. She, who found it very 
difficult to pray, by means of this obedience acquired so much facility 
and pleasure in praying, that of her own choice she would not have 
occupied herself in anything else during her whole life. 

To a novice grievously tempted she lent her girdle, suggesting to 
her to gird herself with it ; which was no sooner done by the novice 
than the temptation ceased. She was wo tit to say to all : " Until you 
give yourselves into the hands of obedience as if dead, you can never 
taste what serving God is. Offer your will in sacrifice to God, and you 
will derive therefrom a sovereign consolation. If you wish to comply 
with the Divine Will, beware lest by persuasions you draw the will of 
the superiors to your own ; but try to execute, simply and entirely, their 
orders, and thus will you arrive at a great perfection. If you experience 
a repugnance to break your will for the sake of obedience, you show 
that you have very little love for God, as you do not wish to trouble 
yourself in the one thing by which you can give Him sovereign honor 
namely, submitting to the will of others for His love." And she tried 
to render her disciples not only obedient with a tranquil submission, but 
also desirous and almost famishing for the yoke of obedience. To this 
end she imposed on them that they should never do even the least thing 
without her permission ; and as she could not always be with them, she 
assigned to each of them a companion, of whom, in her absence, they were 
to ask permission ; and when even this could not be done, they were 
then to ask permission of anyone present, and never to do anything 
without some submission to the will of others. By accustoming them 
selves to obey in small things they facilitated obedience in things greater 
and of strict obligation, as the same disciples avowed that it had so 
happened to them. She reputed as blasphemy on the lips of a Reli 
gious : I will or I will not ; so that if any of her subjects uttered these 
words, she immediately punished her, and with inexorable severity. 
Thus removing from the novitiate every attachment to self-will, so 
inimical to our true welfare and that of a community, she succeeded in 
introducing therein those virtues which are the precious and essential 
dowry of a bride of Jesus Christ. 

Two facts are worth relating here, as evidence to prove how much 
light and power God was giving to this, his beloved servant, that she might 
carry souls along with herself to the highest degree of spiritual perfection. 



2io THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

On the 9th of March, 1591, her eyes assumed an expression of 
sweetness and wonder at the same time, in her countenance the divine 
flame showed which was burning within her heart, and the position of 
her body indicated that she was rapt in ecstasy. While thus alienated 
from her senses she manifested the sublimity and vastness of her 
intelligence, drawn by compared visions, the better to communicate 
them to others: " I see," said she to the sisters, " a column of the most 
beautiful porphyry, the size of which is such that ten men could not 
embrace it; it rests on a base of the finest gold, partly covered, and at 
each of the four corners there is a canal. In the column many precious 
stones of divers qualities and colors are enchased ; and likewise I see four 
large and most clear mirrors, and many others below them, a little 
smaller. Three very beautiful ropes are tied to the column one of 
gold, another red, and the last of silver which are held by a 
great many Nazarites, who follow this column. There is a pilot, 
with his helpmate, who with one hand holds the column, and with 
the other elevates the three ropes that the Nazarites may see them ; and 
the coadjutor holds them out to them, not the three of them at a time, 
but first one and then another, though each one of them is bound to 
have the three of them. Likewise they show to the Nazarites some of 
the mirrors, but only as they proceed, without causing them to stop. 
At the top of the column the king of these Nazarites rests his hands on 
said column, so that it may go straight, without wavering. There is 
also on the summit a crystal gnomon reaching over a spring. This 
column is led by a bright star, which fixes one of its rays upon it, till it 
reaches the city of Jerusalem, where it has to stop. It is also accom 
panied by seven very beautiful trees, on which rest many little birds, 
giving great delight by their singing to the traveling Nazarites. Some 
of these Nazarites throw darts against the column, but as this is of 
porphyry, they mark it, but only break off some of the precious stones 
enchased in the same. Some try to unravel those three very worthy 
ropes, and others to stain and soil them. Among these Nazarites there 
is one holding in his hand a little bell, continually ringing it, and more 
strongly when the others wish to go to sleep. There are others also who 
hold little bells, but do not ring them. Now behold the explanation of 
this: The column signifies our Religion; the golden base on which it 
rests signifies that it is founded on charity ; its being partly covered 
denotes that our Religion tends more properly to the interior perfection 
than to outward penance and exterior practices. The four canals at 
the four corners of the base, and from which issue divers liquors, are four 
great gifts, benefits, or tastes which are to be found in the Religious state. 
From the first canal issues the best wine, which is the union with God, 
as Religion is the most suitable and easy place to unite ourselves with 
God ; and this union inebriates the soul and makes her one with her 
loving Spouse Jesus. From the second canal issues water, which sig 
nifies that the Religious partake in a more particular and continuous 
manner of all the goods of Holy Church ; and at this canal those drink 
who thirst after justice. From -the third canal oil issues, by means of 
which the Religious, according to the saying of the prophet, becomes by 
participation as another God on earth, for he tastes and feels within himself 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 211 

that interior peace that the Word Incarnate once felt here below ; hence 
as it was a glory for the Word to suffer, nay, He wished for nothing but 
this, and for this He was made flesh, likewise the perfect Religious 
regards it as his glory to suffer and to be despised, so that on being 
assailed by temptations, distress, and vexations he does not become 
disturbed in the least degree, nor permits himself to be robbed of his 
quietness and interior peace, as he had already adopted the above-men 
tioned things for his glory, and wishes and craves for nothing else. 
From the fourth and last canal issues forth a very odoriferous balm, 
which denotes the fourth gift which is found in the Religions, viz., the 
counsels and the help which are given to us by the superiors ; and this 
balm anoints only those who are dead to themselves, in the same manner 
that the material balm ordinarily is only used upon dead bodies, but when 
employed for the living it is generally used to anoint one of the limbs, 
never the whole body. Thus then it happens in the Religion, that 
he who is not dead to his own will, judgment, and understanding does 
not avail himself of the fruit of the counsels and help of the superiors, 
as he believes in himself much more than he does in them. The various 
precious stones signify the virtues which shine in our Rule and Consti 
tution. The four principal mirrors are the four principal Saints of our 
Religion, viz., St. Eliseus, St. Angelus, St. Albert, and St. Cyril, and 
the smaller ones denote the other Saints and blessed souls of our Order. 
The three ropes which are attached to the column are the three vows: 
that of obedience, represented by the golden one, that of poverty by the 
red, and that of chastity by the silver. The Nazarites who hold the 
ropes in their hands are all of us who promised to the Lord and 
made a solemn profession to keep the above three vows. The pilot 
of the Nazarites, who with one hand holds the column and with 
the other elevates the three ropes, is the superioress who directs us, and 
who must in everything she has to do, treat and order, always keep the 
Rule in her hands, viz., she must see that all she orders is in conformity 
with our Rule and Constitution, never departing from it in the least ; 
moreover, she must teach her subjects by her example the observance of 
the three vows ; and yet she trains her subjects, now in the observance 
of one and now of the other, because, if she wanted to exercise them in 
the three at the same time, she would not be acting as charity and com 
passion require her to act. She must, therefore, have grace and light 
from God in order to know well how to discern the nature, the tendencies, 
and the spirit of each, so as to assign the occupations convenient to each 
particular case ; for instance, in time of sickness, it is necessary to with 
draw the rope of poverty, in regard to the actual practice of it, and to 
consign the rope of obedience, by which one may peacefully submit to 
the pains of sickness. To the young nuns and the beginners who are 
not yet well established in the way of perfection, she ought also to hand 
the rope of obedience, and so she changes them from time to time, as she 
may deem necessary, though each of them must of herself fulfill the three 
vows. The superioresses also point out to their subjects those mirrors 
which are enchased in the column, but this they do as they walk along 
without causing them to stop; and this means that they must excite 
them to imitate the lives of the Saints, but without obstructing the 



2! 2 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

interior vocation to which God called them. The king of these Nazarites, 
who keeps his hands on the column that it may proceed straightforward, 
is the spiritual father, who must be always watching and see that we 
continually and perfectly fulfill the Rule. The crystal gnomon, which is 
at the summit of the column and reaches a fount near by, indicates the 
doctrine which is embodied in the Rule, and which aims at nothing else 
but the union with God, signified by the rotundity of the gnomon. The 
fount is the Eucharistic Sacrament, it being the surest and most effica 
cious means to employ in order that we may live united to God. The 
star which guides said column is the Blessed Virgin, our Mother and 
protectress, to whom our Rule is dedicated, and who, by her special pro 
tection and grace, assists us to advance towards the heavenly Jerusalem, 
where we shall finally stop and dwell, if we shall have perfectly fulfilled 
our holy Rule and Constitution. The seven Trees which accompany 
this column are the seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost ; the birds singing on 
these Trees with sweet melody are the fruits of the same Holy Ghost. 
The Nazarites throwing darts against the column are those who find 
fault with and murmur against the Rule and the Constitution, it seeming 
to them as if it were either too austere or not ordained as they would 
prefer ; but their throwing of darts cannot hurt said Rule, as it cannot 
detract even the least particle from its interior spiritual greatness and 
perfection. By these faults they blunt some of those stones that are 
joined to the column, as these murmurs being heard by imperfect persons 
who are not constant in doing good, they pour into their soul a similar 
opinion and easily fasten it therein ; and for this reason, as far as they 
are concerned, .they detract some exterior beauty from the virtues and 
from the perfection which our holy Religion teaches us and binds us to 
practice. As to those Nazarites who try to unravel the three beautiful 
ropes, they represent those sisters who willfully break the three vows 
and shun the practices and toils of the Religion. The others who stain 
and soil those most worthy ropes are those Religious who do not per 
fectly observe the promises they have made to the Lord, so that if any 
thing is enjoined on them by obedience, they do not execute it with 
spiritual promptitude, humility, and the other conditions required of 
truly obedient persons. They stain the vow of poverty when they wish 
to have more than is given to them by the Religion (Religious Order), 
instead of glorying in poverty and in suffering for the love of Christ 
Crucified. They stain and soil the vow of chastity when they do not 
guard their heart, thoughts, desires, and words as the most delicate per 
fection of this vow requires. The Nazarites who have the bell in their 
hands, and ring it not, are those who have the knowledge of God but 
do not use it in behalf of their neighbors. (She not having announced 
who was the Nazarite who was ringing the bell continually, the nuns 
rightly interpreted that she was herself, the venerable mother, so zealous 
of the spiritual advancement of others, who was now hiding her own 
name under the veil of humility.) The Nasarites walking behind the 
column hear the disagreeable singing of a bird ; but tho.^e who are deter 
mined to continue their journey with alacrity pass on as if they were 
deaf, which signifies the discipline of the Religion, which gives no 
delight to the sensitive part of the flesh ; but we must be as deaf to it, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 213 

nay, try to attain to such a perfection, that whatever displeases our 
senses may be our glory and delight, and with the spirit we must con 
quer our flesh and its appetites. I see the king of these Nazarites who 
sometimes lifts up his hands to heaven, in order that receiving some 
dew he may moisten the heads of these Nazarites. This is our Rev. Father 
Confessor who, elevating the powers of his soul to God, has them filled 
up by God with grace, light, and virtue ; and then, by his preaching, 
exhortations, and advice, he communicates these to us, leading us through 
the road of perfection. But we must keep our heads uncovered to feel 
this dew that is, we must preserve our minds pure and free from vain 
and useless thoughts. Whilst journeying to perfection, by night we 
must go with our heads erect and our eyes turned to heaven, and by 
day with our heads down and our eyes fixed upon the ground that is, 
when the soul finds herself in the night of tribulation and toil, she must 
turn to God, and trust only in Him, resting and fixing all her thoughts 
and affections in His providence. As to daytime that is, during pros 
perity the soul must humble and annihilate herself so as to become 
convinced of being a mere nothing and undeserving that God should so 
long tolerate her upon the earth. The Nazarites also, like their king, 
must often lift their hands up to heaven to receive the dew and refresh 
themselves with it. For whilst we are in this miserable life, preparing 
for the celestial and blessed one, we must elevate our soul to God by con 
tinual meditation and contemplation, in which the intellect is enlight 
ened, and the will is inflamed and made to burn with divine love. This 
cools the fire of sensuality in the soul, and makes her fly up the road of 
perfection, rendering sweet and palatable whatever bitterness may have 
to be tasted for the love of her amiable Spouse, Jesus Crucified." 

On the first day of Pentecost, 1 604, having been already alienated from 
her senses for several hours, with the strongest enthusiasm of celestial 
affection, among many and wonderful things, she said : " This Divine 
vSpirit is love and asks for love, and rests not in those hearts that love 
Him not, and do not love purely for God. . . . There are many souls 
making nothing but little bundles of hay and straw. Few are they that 
work precious stones and embrace strong columns. These bundles of 
straw and hay are good for nothing except to burn ; and when burning, 
they make a very light fire, which quickly disappears, leaving soot and 
smoke, but the stones are of infinite value and enrich those who possess 
them ; the columns support the high buildings and those who embrace 
them. The bundles of straw indicate those persons who attend to the per 
formance of many manual works with vanity and for human ends. . . . 
There are many persons working all their lives, but, as they do not work 
for God, they derive therefrom nothing more than a light splendor of 
human glory, which soon passes away, leaving their hearts full of regret 
and pain, and they find no reward for it in the next life. The Divine 
Spirit rests but little in these persons ; but He comes down in great full 
ness and rests in those souls that work precious stones of solid and real 
virtues, of humility, despisement of self and everything created, poverty, 
purity, and resignation of their will to God and the superiors. . . . 
The souls embracing strong columns are governed by them, and their 
edifice will never shake or fall ; for, when working for God with purity 



2 14 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

of intention, neither tribulation, nor distress, nor any creature can ever 
overthrow their constancy, as they are strengthened by the Divine Spirit 
and their operations remain forever, because they are founded on the 
Divine Truth." Turning to the novices when she was their mistress, 
she used to say to them with great emphasis : " Do not make bundles of 
straw, but enrich yourselves with these valuable stones, embrace the 
strong pillars, if you wish the Divine Spirit to rest in you." And, 
having been silent for a while, she added: " This Divine Love and pure 
Spirit will not rest by any means in those souls that possess cutting 
tongues, as He hates and very much abhors a backbiting tongue, and 
departs and flees from it. It is true that this Divine Spirit comes down, 
for, being communicative, He would like to give Himself to all ; but He 
does not stop, not knowing where to rest. He rests for a moment in 
those souls that make bundles of straw, but He does not stop at all where 
there are cutting tongues." Here, with a louder voice, she would say: 
" Harm not thy neighbor, as God commanded that we should love him 
as ourselves, and it is too great an evil to touch him. He is the pupil 
of God s eye; and the eye is so delicate an organ that the least wisp of 
straw offends it. He who offends his neighbor offends God. Of the 
neighbor s faults we cannot, we must not speak, except with the intention 
of doing him good, and with those who can remedy the evil ; whatever 
else is spoken of is murmuring. ... I would like to be able to go 
throughout the whole world and get all the souls into my hands, and I 
would exert myself so much with the divine help that I would root out all 
these biting teeth. Ah ! if creatures could see and understand fully how 
much God hates these tongues with teeth no one would be found that 
would dare to murmur. If God hates murmuring in every creature, He 
cannot, He will not, tolerate it at all in the Religious and Spouses con 
secrated to Him. Some Religions (Religious Orders) are like well-cul 
tivated gardens decked out with beautiful trees, odoriferous flowers, and 
leafy plants, on account of the exact observance and the beautiful order 
that are found therein. Other Religious Orders are like ugly forests 
compared to the former, because in them there is no order of religious 
observance; nevertheless, in these the Divine Spirit rests a little, as 
there are no murmuring tongues there; and, on the contrary, He comes 
to the others and passes on without stopping, because the spirit of 
hypocrisy which dominates them, rather than truth, leads them fre 
quently to the vice of backbiting. But woe, woe to them" (she used 
to say still louder) "because God will permit the light they possess to be 
turned into darkness, if they do not pull out these teeth, and He will 
give His light to other Religions. O perverse tongues, what wonder of 
iniquity are you, that you suffice to overthrow all the good of a Religion ! 
O my souls" (she used also to say to the novices) "beware of putting on 
these teeth, and thank Divine Goodness that at present not one among 
you is stained with this vice." Progressing with her deep contemplation, 
the Saint so penetrated the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity that, over 
come by feelings of amazement, she was wont to repeat: " Incompre 
hensible God! . . . eternal is Thy greatness, . . . ineffable is Thy 
goodness. ... I see, and I see with complacency, the three Divine 
Persons imparting to one another their divine influxes in an ineffable 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 

and inscrutable manner. The Father flows into the Son, the Son into 
the Father, and the Father and the Son into the Holy Ghost ; the Holy 
Ghost flows in a manner which it is impossible for us to understand. 
Eternal God, Thou art ineffably good ; and, by Thy goodness, Thou dost 
impart to the creature immersed in the knowledge of her nothingness some 
knowledge of Thy eternal being ; but, even granted that this communi 
cation is wonderful, yet it may be said with truth that it is as a mere 
no thing compared to that which passes bet ween God and His creature. . . . 
The three Divine Persons communicate their divine influxes to all the 
blessed in heaven ; and the blessed return their influxes into the Father, 
the Son, and the Holy Ghost, with their praise and thanksgiving, mag 
nifying, blessing, and exalting continually and without ceasing the Most 
Holy Trinity. The three Divine Persons communicate their influxes 
also to the creatures of this world, and the Word Incarnate does it by 
sending gifts and graces to them, that they may so dispose themselves 
that all the Most Holy Trinity may be well pleased in them. ... I see 
the Father aspiring to the salvation of the same creatures ; I see the Son 
breathing in them, and the Holy Ghost inspiring the aspiration of the 
Father, which is like an ardent wish for the salvation of creatures. The 
breathing of the Son is like a rest He takes in the soul, making the 
creature look up to God the Father. The inspiration of the Holy Ghost 
is like the enlightening which He gives that the soul may go on from 
virtue to virtue till Deus deorum in Sion may be seen. This is the 
wonderful work the Most Holy Trinity continually performs in the 
creature. . . . The Most Holy Trinity communicates its influx in a most 
special manner to the Religious, but in so different a manner that I feel 
amazed at it, because some receive more and some less, and with such a 
difference between one and the other that I would never have thought it to 
be so." Being filled with this feeling of wonder, it seemed to her as if she 
saw the soul of a Religious not receiving these divine influxes, having 
rendered herself unworthy of them by being willing to remain in mortal 
sin. Therefore, many devils bound her with horrible chains, and, with 
insults and contempt, led her to the place of eternal torments ; at which 
sight Mary Magdalen wept for grief, sighed with convulsive agitation, 
and, emitting plaintive and strong cries, said : " Unhappy soul, and who 
would have believed it that thou with obstinate will wouldst not only 
live, but also die, in mortal sin ! " She was so frightened at it that for 
two whole days she was in great anguish and terror. Finally she under 
stood that the devils acquire great power over those Religious who 
through their own fault do not receive these influxes, thereby becoming 
a source of great scandal in their Congregation and of serious ruin to it. 
As God for the sake of a good person sends many favors to a place, so 
also, on account of a bad person, He permits many evils and losses to 
befall another place. Hence she recommended the most rigid perspicuity 
when it was a question of admitting a person to the religious state, and 
that all possible zeal and care should be used to lead such person rightly 
to the road of perfection. When God calls anyone to Religion, He desires 
that, in saving and perfecting his own soul, others also may be led to 
the haven of salvation, both by example and exhortations. 



2l6 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 





CHAPTER XXX. 

OF HER SPECIAL GIFT OF PENETRATING THE HEART OF THE 
SISTERS COMMITTED TO HER CARE. 

D assisted Mary Magdalen with a gift which helped her 
very much in the various and wonderful ways she employed 
in the spiritual direction of her subjects, which have been 
described more at length than it was at first intended in the 
preceding chapter. This gift consisted in enabling her to 
penetrate the secrets of others spirits, which we have already 
seen manifesting itself in several cases. We will here relate 
in particular those which came under the observation of her 
young girls and novices, and which have been by them testified to in 
the processes. 

One day whilst Mary Magdalen was at work with her novices, she 
saw in the heart of one of them a fault or imperfection which was greatly 
displeasing to God, and of which the novice having no knowledge had 
not spoken to the mother or the others. She saw that such a fault was 
rooted in the heart of that girl like a juniper tree (so it presented itself to 
the imagination of Mary Magdalen), and she said that the Guardian 
Angel of this novice was trying to uproot it from her heart, but could 
not succeed, as some devils prevented him. Hence the holy mother, 
enkindled with zeal, arose suddenly from her seat, and, taking the novice 
by the arm, led her to the oratory of the novitiate, and there, being rapt 
in ecstasy, began to strike her with the discipline, so as to humble her 
spirit rather than inflict pain on her body, saying at the same time to the 
devils: "Depart from her, ye evil ones, and leave this soul." The 
novice, between the surprise and the humiliation, burst into tears, and 
the mother, having known her to be well disposed towards docility, 
manifested to her the fault which had taken root in her interior, and 
thus enlightening her wrought also her amendment. 

Another novice had kept a temptation for five months hidden in 
her heart and would not confess it. God manifested it to our holy 
mistress, who, calling the novice to her and reprimanding her, spoke 
openly to her concerning her temptation. She then impressively told 
her to beware in future lest she should keep anything hidden, and to 
consider it a strict obligation to confess to the mistress whatever passed 
through her mind. 




She obtains from God that the spoiled wine in a keg in the 
monastery become good (page 158). 

216 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 

One evening, whilst reciting compline in the choir, another of her 
disciples was troubled by strong temptations against her own vocation. 
The Saint, whose place it was then to sprinkle the sisters with holy 
water, when she turned to bless this young lady, made all temptations 
disappear from her troubled soul, leaving her in the most complete tran 
quillity. The young lady being amazed at this sudden result, and 
believing at the same time that the Saint had been the benign cause of 
it, asked her for an explanation, and Mary Magdalen answered that 
Jesus Christ had truly manifested to her the agitation of her heart, and 
that in blessing her, she prayed to God that He might deliver her from 
those temptations. 

The mistress of the young girls had a disciple who was very much 
afflicted ; and being unable to find any way of giving her rest, she 
recommended her one day to the charity of our Saint, then mistress of 
novices, that she might help her to that end. Whilst Mary Magdalen 
was lending herself to the charitable office with all the zeal of which she 
was capable, one of her novices having come to speak to her, and being 
unable to do so, murmured within herself, without giving any exterior 
sign of it, these words of impatience: " It is not enough for that girl to 
have her own mistress, but she must come and take ours away." The 
Saint, who, on coming out of the young girl s cell, found her own novice 
on the threshold, reproached her for this murmuring, and added : 
" When thou shalt be afflicted and tempted, I shall help thee, too, even 
though I shall not then be thy mother mistress." Hence, the novice, 
full of confusion, humbly and sincerely begged forgiveness from so 
zealous and enlightened a mistress. 

The sense of pride was troubling the spirit of one of her novices, 
and, what is worse, she studied very carefully to hide it. One morning, 
when she was about entering the choir, Magdalen said : "Ave Maria" 
this being the usual answer of respect and devotion when anyone was 
called. This novice who was near her, said : " Mother mistress, nobody 
calls thee." To this, the Saint answered: "Come with me." And, 
having led her apart, she bitterly reprimanded her for permitting herself 
to be so much troubled by pride, adding that St. Catherine of Siena had 
suggested to her not to let her come into the choir whilst she remained 
in so improper a disposition, without first imposing a penance on her; 
which having been done by the mother, the novice humbled herself, and 
in the future did all she could in order to be ingenuous and tranquil. 

One of her disciples, whilst reciting the Divine Office with her, 
was assailed by strange thoughts and temptations; but all this was 
interior, and she gave no exterior sign of it. Nevertheless, the Saint 
knew it, and, fixing her eyes upon her, said to her rather severely : " When 
done with this office, we shall have to call the chapter;" and, in fact, 
she made her afterwards humble herself in the presence of the other 
novices, manifesting how, not without some fault, she had had her 
attention distracted from the Divine Office. 

A novice was doing what the Saint had imposed on her through 
obedience, which was to draw daily some pails of water from the well. 
She thought one day that it would be better to pour out that water into 
the trough, to be used to water the orchard ; but, without following this 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

contrary thought, she did her duty as usual. Having returned to the 
novitiate, the Saint asked her immediately whether she had done her 
duty, alluding to obedience, and on the novice s answering Yes, the mother 
added : " It would have been better to throw the water into the trough. 
Is it not true?" The novice blushed like a child caught in a fault, 
and, bowing her head, confessed her thought. Then Mary Magdalen 
told her to learn blind obedience, which leaves no room for human 
prudence. It is not the deed which gives value to obedience ; but it is 
obedience itself which raises any work to a degree of sovereign value, 
though the work may be of the humblest and even opposed to reason. 

It also happened to this novice that out of her own caprice, without 
consulting anybody, she girded her body with a knotty rope. A few days 
after she had first worn it, the Saint one evening went to her bedside 
and frankly told her : " Sister, see what thou dost, as thou dost not do 
the will of God. " The novice, not understanding what the holy mistress 
meant, answered with an air of surprise : " What dost thou speak of? " 
And the mother : " Of that rope which thou wearest ; take it off and 
give it to me." The novice obeyed and thanked God who gave so much 
light to the directress of her spirit. 

Another novice entertained some feelings of contempt (without ever 
having given any exterior- sign thereof) against one of her companions 
who appeared to her faulty in manners and disposition. The Saint having 
perceived this, said to her unexpectedly : "My sister, if that companion 
of thine does not possess all the exterior qualities thou thinkest she should 
possess ^Ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos^ l He made us, and not we our 
selves (Ps. xcix, 3). God made us and formed us according to His 
liking, and we are not our own makers, that we may be reproached for 
having one nature rather than another." Through these words the 
novice corrected her own moral fault, shutting her eyes to the innocent 
faults of her companion, and opening her heart to an affectionate esteem 
for her. 

A nun of Sister Mary Magdalen s monastery was troubled interiorly 
by a serious thought and lacked the courage to manifest it to anybody, 
only praying God with constant fervor that He might vouchsafe to 
deliver her from it. One day the Saint, being in ecstasy, said to this 
sister: " Jesus intends to grant thee the grace thou desirest." A few 
days afterwards meeting her in a corridor, the Saint called her aside and 
said to her : ( ( The thing thou askest of God is this "... (manifesting 
to her exactly the hidden thought which tormented her) ; . . . u but thou 
placest this impediment" . . . (which also was by the Saint manifested). 
The nun acknowledged the truth of all, removed the obstacle, and 
obtained the grace so much wished for. 

On account of the narrowness of the choir, the novices were com 
pelled to remain out of it. One day one of them felt a great desire to 
enter it to recite the office with the nuns ; but she dared not speak of it 
to anyone. The Saint saw in spirit the desire of this young girl; and 
being in the choir, left her place, went to her, and led her to the choir, 
where she remained to her great delight and wondering how the mother 
could have come to the knowledge of her hidden wish. 

At another time it happened that this same sister having to assist 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 319 

the holy mother in her last sickness, was unwilling to do it, fearing 
that death might overtake her whilst she was alone with her at that 
moment. With this fear wholly interior she went to the bedside of the 
Saint, who immediately uttered these words, which at once show the 
gift of prophecy and that of searching hearts, with which she was 
endowed: "Sister Angela Catherine" (said she to this sister, whose 
name was such), "come cheerfully along; for when I shall die, all the 
nuns will be present. n So in fact it happened at the time when the 
happy passage of our glorious mother took place. 

What she chiefly discerned, however, in the interior of others, was 
whether anyone humbled herself truly or not ; hence, no matter how 
much one tried to simulate the interior disposition, the venerable mother 
was never deceived, neither did she rest satisfied with exterior humilia 
tions. To one who through human respect had asked her to impose 
some such mortification upon her, she said that God does not value those 
sacrifices, but rather prefers purity of heart and rectitude of intention. 
Another who under the appearance of humility came to her to justify 
herself by blaming a companion, she no sooner saw than she said to her 
these plain words : " Sister, if thou art silent with thy mouth, be also 
silent with thy heart ; and keep to thyself what thou wishest to say to 
me." The evidence of these facts dispenses us from further demonstrat 
ing to what a degree God enlightened the mind of Mary Magdalen. It 
gives us also an idea of how much the young girls committed to her 
care, being continually called to keep a strict watch over their hearts, 
could profit in regard to their spiritual perfection and eternal salvation. 




22O 



THE LJFE AND WORKS OF 




CHAPTER XXXL 




WHAT RESPECTFUL AND BENEFICENT CHARITY MARY MAGDALEN 
HAD FOR HER NEIGHBOR. 



\OMINIS officium est homini cuivis benefacere "It is man s 
own duty to do good to every man," said Terence. " Beware 
of doing to others what thou wishest not done to thee," 
said Aristotle. " Respect thy image in thy neighbor ; by 
injuring it, thou injurest thyself," thus said Cato. " No 
body does harm to himself by benefiting others," thus said 
Seneca. And many others, though idolaters, used the same 
language about the duties we owe to our neighbor. Truth 
has said : What thou wouldst that men do to thee, do thou, to them like- 
wise " (Matth. vii, 1 2). This truth is the light infused by the Creator into 
the soul of the first man, that he and his descendants, united to God by 
charity, might partake in this life of that peace and most perfect beatitude 
to which they were destined in the next. Adam s error, which threw all 
mankind into the vile slavery of the rebellious passions, made of this 
world a theatre of enormous crimes, of guilty machinations, of secret 
calumnies, of invectives, and all sorts of injustice. Human legislation 
to check this sad overflowing of evils used all kinds of remedies and 
punishments. With these cooperated the religious ideas of pagans, 
which, though false, still had as a principal aim the union of the 
people in one thought and affection. Moses, the first lawgiver of the 
chosen people, in the love of God and of our neighbor includes all the 
precepts of his tables. Jesus Christ, who from the highest heavens 
came down on earth to rekindle and revive this flame of charity which 
was nearly extinguished in men s hearts, reduced all the laws, the 
prophets, the sacrifices, the worships, and, I will say it, for the 
greater part even the love of God to the love of our neighbor. 
According to the spirit of the Gospel, the love of God is the 
word of the heart cultivated interiorly, and the love of our neighbor 
is the complete realization of the social actions, embracing and in 
cluding all the virtues and all the duties, and touching all the points 
of every perfection. He who says that he loves God and yet entertains 
hatred against his neighbor is a liar. He who may even spend all the 
hours of his life in penance and prayer, in works of divine worship, and 
loves not his neighbor, is a hypocrite, a Pharisee; ^ For" thus argues 
the Apostle St. John, ^he who loves not his brother whom he seeth, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 221 

how can he love God, whom he seeth not?" (i John iv, 20). Like God s 
precepts, so, also, those of the Church are but means to lead us to the 
most noble end of fraternal benevolence. " Go," said Jesus Christ to the 
Apostles, "and announce to the whole world the gospel, the good news, 
the universal peace, the reunion of all the members to their one only 
Head ! " Choosing Peter to preside over the rest, he only inquired about 
his charity, of which being assured, He concluded: "Feed My sheep" 
(John xxi, 17). The Holy Ghost dwelling in the heart of the Apostles 
so diffused charity therein, that thenceforth they lived but for the benefit 
of their brethren. The image of God, equally imprinted in every human 
creature, is the most powerful motive which should induce us to love, 
benefit, and help everybody as much as we can. It not only checks all 
positively contrary feelings, but also that voracious self-love; and, to use 
the word now mostly in vogue, that cruel egotism which, whilst wishing 
that everything should serve to its comfort, extinguishes in the heart the 
sacred sparks of compassionating charity, and hardens and closes the 
heart, so that the love of our neighbor has no place therein. Having 
laid down these premises, already mentioned elsewhere but never suf 
ficiently repeated, let us in this chapter look in particular to the acts 
practiced by Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi in behalf of her neighbors, listen 
ing in the meantime to the voice of nature, which, by the regeneration 
of Jesus Christ, calls strongly upon us to embrace as brothers all people 
and all nations. 

St. Mary Magdalen being in the habit of writing down all the acts 
of virtue in the practice of which she felt greater interest and zeal, 
among those of charity towards her neighbor, we find the following : 
" To incline the will to love the creature simply because God loves her, 
and to rejoice in the love which He bears to her, and in the perfection 
which He communicates to her." In speaking thus, she manifested the 
purity of this sentiment : " Even granted (which cannot be) that God 
Himself wanted to permit our neighbor to offend us and cause us grief, 
nevertheless we must wish our neighbor all the perfection and glory of 
the seraphim, even if he were to employ it against us." And again: 
" If God were pleased, and it would redound to His glory, that I should 
be troubled by a creature having the talents of the seraphim, still I must 
and will wish her to possess those talents, though they are to be spent 
to offend me, in order to give delight and glory to God." To this alter 
nate passing from the love of God to that of her neighbor, and from the 
latter to the former, her most profound humility was not a stranger, as 
she sometimes said that she wished more good to her neighbor than to 
herself, thinking that her neighbor would be more thankful to God for it, 
and would derive more benefit therefrom than herself. 

Whilst contemplating one day the grace of God under the image of 
a fount, she, in the effervescence of her spirit, saw many souls around this 
fount like many little lambs, and, being overtaken by the desire that all 
of them should dip in that fount to taste its celestial sweetness, she 
continued, saying with animated words : " I would like to dip therein 
all those souls one by one." As if in the act of seeing some of them dip 
ping themselves into the fount, she added with great joy: " O my Jesus, 
they do very well." 



222 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

During the five years of her probation whilst God had deprived her 
of all spiritual taste, she compensated herself for this privation by 
wishing the greatest possible good to her neighbor. This she herself 
said during the last eight days of her ecstasy before she entered that hor 
rible and long trial : u I shall stay there in a little corner " (she said in 
a low and very submissive voice) " looking at all the other Brides, my 
companions, having myself nothing to taste ; but I shall do, Eternal 
Word, like those little infants Thou hast taken up to Thyself (viz., 
those children who die after baptism before reaching the use of reason), 
" who, though they possess not that fullness of glory which they see 
many other Saints possessing, nevertheless are satisfied with what they 
have ; or else I will think that I, too, possess all those things that others 
possess ; and though I shall not taste them, yet charity, which makes 
things common to all, will make me taste even while not tasting them, 
as if sharing in others taste. " 

Her companions of the monastery testified to having witnessed 
many a time the excessive joy by which Mary Magdalen was transported 
at seeing souls favored by God with graces and celestial gifts. As to 
the gifts with which God favored her, she not only wished but also tried 
with utmost industry to communicate them to others. This she did on 
all occasions, but especially, as we have already seen, during the time that 
she had charge of the novices and young ladies of the monastery. She 
received no spiritual light which she did not try to communicate now 
by example, now by words, in which way, while in ecstasy, she was 
sometimes forced by the Spirit of God to manifest the treasures of her 
heart more than she would have done of her own will. This happened 
particularly the third night of Pentecost, during the already recorded 
ecstasy of eight continuous days, whilst penetrating with her thoughts 
into the humanity of the Word and contemplating it under the symbol 
of a most charming garden. She said that on the feet of Jesus she 
found flowers, in His hands fruits and jewels, and in His heart darts of 
love in great abundance. Then, fixing her admiring gaze on the sacred 
feet, she said: u He that wants to find many bouquets of flowers and 
lilies let him come here, as he can gather baskets of them around the 
feet of my Spouse. " And, with boundless love, she added : u I would 
like with these flowers to make garlands and place them on the heads of 
Thy Brides, but I will make a little bundle of them, and give them to 
Mary to preserve them." Contemplating the left hand, she spoke thus : 
" These fruits which I draw from the left hand, O Word, I would like 
to have not only for myself, but I aspire to communicate them also 
to the whole world." At the right hand, she continued: 4 From this 
right hand of thine, O Word, I will gather all the precious gems that I 
shall find therein, which my soul wishes to communicate to every 
creature." Of the darts of love she found in the Sacred Side, deeming 
herself unable to bear them, she only said, exclaiming : " O Heart, O Side 
of the Eternal Word Incarnate, one cannot correspond to so great an 
influence of Thine. Thou dartest too much, one cannot bear it ; great 
assistance is needed to correspond to and keep so many darts." On the 
second day of this same ecstasy, she also gave a sign of this desire of 
communicating every good to the souls; whilst contemplating the grace 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 223 

of the Holy Ghost under the image of water, she uttered these words : 
" O Precious Water ; oh ! if one could become a fountain of it through 
charity ! Oh, if one could communicate it and scatter it through the 
whole world, and become a fountain of it and a river so large and 
swift that it would carry and draw along, as if to the sea, all the 
souls to eternal life ! " Many other things she added, by which she 
gave to understand how ardently she wished that the Holy Ghost would 
be diffused by His grace through the hearts of all creatures. She also 
manifested the same desire coupled with grief at seeing the souls remain 
ing deprived of the grace of God. 

In another ecstasy, understanding how the Divine Spirit wanted to 
depart from some souls on account of their ingratitude, she felt for them 
so much affliction and anguish that she became pale, as if mortally 
wounded, and gave vent to expressions of the deepest bitterness. Then, 
to appease God and move Him to pity, she formed some most devout 
prayers upon these words : "Protector noster, aspice Dens ; et re spice in 
faciem Christi tui"- " Look, O Lord, our Protector; look upon the face 
of Thy Christ;" as if taking for an Intercessor the wounded and bloody 
face of her beloved Jesus. Among her morning protestations there was 
this also, that she wanted to suffer any extreme suffering rather than 
prevent her neighbor s attaining some greater spiritual good. 

But the most conspicuous mark of heavenly and wonderful truth 
in the life of Mary Magdalen appears from her enjoyment of so 
many contemplations, ecstasies, and excesses of love and her per 
formance of so many charitable actions for which she was always 
ready, and which were so easy to her. Her contemplative method 
causes us immediately to liken her to the Magdalen of the Divine 
Master, who, finding her delight in sitting at His sacred feet, was 
leaving to her sister all the care of earthly things. The activity, 
the solicitude, the affection with which our Saint lent herself to all 
works of charity convince us likewise that she, in choosing the best 
part, neglected in no way to imitate in some manner the busying of 
Martha for the social conveniences of human life. For, besides the 
spiritual charities of consoling the afflicted and sad ones, encouraging 
the tempted and the faint-hearted, there was no work done in the monas 
tery, to which, as far as obedience permitted her, she did not put her 
hand. She wanted to partake of all the labors of either veiled or lay 
sisters. The sisters endeavored to hide their needs from her, as they 
knew it was impossible for her to abstain from coming in some manner 
to their relief, at the cost of any sacrifice. Besides the offices she filled 
in the Order, frequently she would go to the kitchen to help in the 
laborious duties of the cooks now carrying wood, now drawing wateY, 
now cleaning and putting away the kitchen utensils and crockery; 
sometimes waiting on the table, sweeping the cells, washing, making 
bread and carrying it to the oven, or doing other similar work, to which 
not by obedience, but by charity alone she was drawn. Thus volun 
tarily helping a lay-sister for six years to bake, she arose before the 
usual time, heated the water, and commenced to work at the flour. In 
carrying the bread to the oven upon a board, she would go as quickly as 
possible, so that the greatest share of the work would be hers. For the 



224 T R E LIFE AND WORKS OF 

washing of the community, she arose before the lay-sisters, filled the 
cauldrons with water, gathered the wood, built the fire, and commenced 
to wash ; so that when the others appeared, she had already finished a 
great deal of work. She would sometimes stay washing linens for five 
or six hours in the night, that she might not be seen so assiduously at 
work in the day-time, and that she might during the day perform other 
labors, according to her various duties. Whilst she was mistress of 
novices, she sent them through the monastery to look after soiled 
linens; and having gotten them, she washed them in the night-time, 
the more to lessen the work of others. Suffice it to say that by reason 
of this constant occupation at washing, a bone of her right hand became 
dislocated. O God ! what a cause for wonder, shame, and confusion 
for us to see a noble young lady, delicate, innocent, who overcoming her 
own weak constitution, is willing to lay down her very life for the love 
of her neighbors. If any lay-sister out of dutiful respect refused to be 
assisted in her work by Magdalen, the latter would beg her in such a 
pressing manner that she was forced to let her help her. " Deprive me 
not, sister" (the Saint would say), "of the merit of this work; let me do 
it ; thou shalt do something else for me. It is better that we should 
labor in doing work one for the other, than that one should work for 
herself alone; as in working for one s self there is self-love, and in 
working for others there is charity." 

When by reason of some occupation she could not be present to 
work with the lay-sisters, if any spare time was left her, she would 
immediately go to their cells to sweep and to make their beds, saying 
afterwards: " I wish those poor sisters, after they have done their work, 
to have rest." It being the duty of a lay-sister to call the nuns to 
matins, she asked her the favor (with the permission of the superioress) 
to attend to this alternately with her, one week each. She having 
obtained permission, and having attended to it for some time, the lay- 
sister took sick, and Mary Magdalen continued alone for fifteen years to 
call up the nuns every night for matins. When the needs of the monas 
tery required something to be done which few knew how to do, she 
herself tried with the greatest care to learn how to do it, in order to 
help those who were doing it, and that the monastery might not be 
deprived of any assistance she could possibly give it, as every Religious 
is bound to do. She was wont to say that she looked upon that day as 
lost in which she had not done some act of charity towards her neigh 
bor. But, in truth, not one such loss can be counted during her whole 
life. The occasions for being charitable in the community life are 
most frequent; and Mary Magdalen, far from passing them by, hunted 
them up with great diligence, and she wanted to embrace them all. 
Sometimes, though very tired from having done some hard work, if 
occasion offered itself, without showing that she was tired, she seized it 
as if she were just then commencing her day s work ; and being some 
times asked by some sister to take rest, or questioned as to how she 

could endure so much, she answered : " My body is like that of an ass 

I suffer nothing ;" or else : " This body of mine is like that of a little 
donkey, and must carry its load day and night, and must not be given 
any Test." At the same time, through humility, she added that she was 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 225 

good for nothing, that she knew not how to pray, and that in order that 
she might not become useless to the Order, she had to occupy herself 
about these exterior exercises. But the fact was that she exerted herself 
so indefatigably in behalf of her neighbor, not so much on account of 
her special virtue, as in order to fulfill the Rule given her by her Divine 
Spouse, in which He commanded her to thirst, as the deer for water, 
after the exercise of charity towards her neighbor at all times, without 
any greater consideration for the weakness and fatigue of her body than 
for the dust which is trampled upon. 

So did our heroine work, that the sisters bore testimony that her 
labors were equivalent to those of four lay-sisters. Because of this, there 
being no necessity which she did not run to satisfy, no sister whom she 
did not benefit, she was styled the Mother of Charity and the Charity of 
the Monastery. Hence, the nuns felt constant admiration for her, for 
they could not help regarding as a supernatural gift both this over-exertion 
of Magdalen, with her weak constitution and all her fasts and penances, 
and the perfect manner in which she attended to one office and the other, 
as if she were entirely contemplative or wholly active. In the exterior 
works they would see her always fixed in God, even so as to remain 
ecstatic some time ; and in the interior acts she was never forgetful of the 
needs of her neighbor; nay, many times it happened, especially when she 
had charge of the novices, that during the ecstasy itself she performed 
works of charity, and told others to do what she herself could not 
then do. As during the days of great solemnities she would generally be 
rapt in ecstasy, she, in the care and prudence of her charity, antici 
pated those days, giving orders to the teacher or the senior of the 
novices for the performance of those works of charity that she herself 
had been accustomed to perform for the novices, or the sick sisters, or 
others in need. When that hour came, though she might be in the 
height of her ecstasy, she reminded them*of what she had ordered, and 
requested its being done. But the manner, the intensity, the fervor of her 
attendance upon the sick, carried her to such excesses that they seem 
almost incredible. If one of the sisters became sick, she tried to be the 
first one to visit her, offering her services. According to the gravity of 
the illness and the disposition of the sick, day and night Mary Magdalen 
made and repeated her visits. She also studied to anticipate the needs 
of others, and then she informed the superioress or the officer that these 
might be provided for, as opportunity permitted. She compassionated 
so much the pains of corporal sickness in anybody, that she prayed to 
God rather to send them to herself. Several times she was heard to say 
to some patient : "I wish I could steal these pains from thee." And 
the patient answering her with the like charity that she would not wish 
her to suffer them in the least, Mary Magdalen replied : u My constitu 
tion is more robust than thine, and I would not feel them so much." 
With those who on account of sickness felt a dislike for food, she 
employed all the art that a tender mother employs with her child when 
it refuses to eat. If there was any sister w r ho had by order of the physi 
cians to take medicine at inconvenient hours of the night, requiring the 
nurse, Mary Magdalen offered herself for this office, in order to save 
trouble to others, and to make her act more sincere and acceptable. 



226 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

Knowing that one was short or in need of something, she deprived her 
self of it, if she had it, or procured it elsewhere. This she did especially 
when some of the sisters were convalescent in the infirmary, so that they 
would not need to be too solicitous for themselves, to the detriment both 
of their bodies and of their souls. The least thing that might be of 
some benefit to the sick did not escape her attention. Sometimes, 
having scarcely come out of a rapture, she would be seen running to the 
bedside of some sick nun, as if that were her only thought, and as if in 
atonement for having been detained a little. Such was the satisfaction 
of her heart in doing these things, that she used to say there was 
no office in Religion she wished so much as that of nurse ; and at the 
mere thought of it she rejoiced immensely. Sometimes she talked 
about what she would do for the sick ; and seeing herself incapacitated 
from doing it by her other offices, she felt ineffable grief thereat, without 
losing a moment in exerting herself in every way she could. This charity 
of hers was unalterably the same for all, the same in all circumstances, 
always disinterested and always practiced simply for the love of God. 
Nothing did she wish but the glory of God, the temporal and eternal 
happiness of her neighbors ; seeing in these but brothers and sisters, 
all children of the same Father, all belonging to the same family, all 
redeemed from perdition by the same Redeemer, all called to the same 
everlasting beatitude. She saw the image of the Divine Creator clearly 
imprinted on the forehead of the rich as well as of the poor, of the superior 
as well as of the subject, of the learned as well as of the ignorant. No 
matter how faulty or even loaded with sins one might be, the noble and 
generous sentiment of Magdalen for such did not diminish. In serving 
her neighbor she thought that she was serving God Himself; and her 
nuns in particular she regarded as daughters of the Eternal Father, as 
Brides of the Word, as temples of the Holy Ghost, or as sisters of the 
Angels ; or else she considered the love with which God had loved and 
was still loving them, and in this consideration she enkindled within 
herself such a fire of charity that she said: u I would undertake to bear 
anything for my neighbor, and especially to obtain rest and consolation 
for a soul ; as a restless heart gives not true rest to God in itself; and I 
wish for nothing except to give to God His own creatures. * These 
same reflections she suggested to her nuns, saying to them: " You 
ought to consider yourselves unworthy, and regard it as a great favor, 
to serve souls that are the tabernacles of the Holy Ghost." 

We have already seen that she did not neglect the least opportunity 
of leading her subjects to practices of charity. When her parents sent 
anything which she deemed of some use to the sick or the convalescent, 
with the permission of the superioress, she brought it to them, but as 
the property of the Religion, for in her modesty she did not wish to ap 
pear as if making a present, that the sisters might not have to consider 
themselves doubly obliged to her. By the intensity of her love for this 
exercise of serving the sick, once she said that, though she was perfectly 
satisfied with the state in which God had placed her, yet she would have 
regarded it as the greatest grace if God had wanted her to be a servant in a 
hospital. * * I would like," she said, " to render there to the sick all service 
possible, as I see that I do not know how to draw souls to the knowledge 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 22 J 

of the love of God, neither do I deserve to lead them to it, which is 
what would mostly please me. But if I were employed in a hospital, at 
least I would serve their bodies." 

Besides the general services and the charity thus far related, she 
took upon herself the office of assisting particularly some sick sisters, 
among whom were two lay-sisters, one named Sister Charity and the other 
Sister Mattea. The first of these was blind and affected with phthisis. 
For the whole year during which she kept her bed, Mary Magdalen 
waited on her with tireless attention, changing her clothing and assisting 
her in all her necessities, which are so frequent and hard to satisfy in an 
unhappy blind and sick person. On being asked by the superioress 
why she was so solicitous for this lay-sister, she answered that Jesus had 
shown Himself to her as poor, and had told her that if she wanted to do 
a thing pleasing to Him, she should serve Him in the person of that sick 
Bride of His. The other lay-sister, Sister Mattea, had a sore on her 
right limb, from which issued vermin and corruption with such a stench 
that it was necessary to keep her in a room apart from the rest. Mary 
Magdalen attended to this sore, applying the remedies to it and cleaning 
it from the vermin and corruption and the like, which is far from pleasing 
to the human stomach. But all this was not sufficient to satisfy the 
ardent charity of our Saint, as she went so far that, through humility and 
for her greater mortification, several times she put her lips to the sore, 
as if to draw the disease all to herself. This, with tears of tenderness 
and confusion, was related by the patient herself to the mother prioress, 
Sister Vangelista del Giocondo. With Sisters Barbara Bassi and Benigna 
Orlandini, Mary Magdalen acted likewise ; as, after the most loving care 
bestowed upon them to relieve them of their sickness, she also licked 
their limbs which were affected by contagious and offensive diseases, the 
heroism of which action was followed by the miraculous cure of both 
these sisters. 

During the gravity of the disease, when the patient was in danger 
of her life, Mary Magdalen redoubled her care. If necessary, she watched 
several consecutive nights at the bedside of the sick, without taking the 
least rest ; and if, being overtired, she took a little rest, it was on a chair, 
not on the straw-bed. By the bedside of one of the above-mentioned 
lay-sisters, she stood watching continuously for ten consecutive days and 
nights, and fifteen by the bedside of the other. 

But it is impossible to tell how ardent her charity became on the 
approach of the last moment of some sister. It is not necessary to 
repeat that the chief aim of her charity always was the glory of God 
and the salvation of souls ; so that the arguments most calculated to 
strengthen and sanctify the spirit were brought forward by her at all 
times and with all persons, more than those which had only reference to 
this material life. Whilst at the bedside of a dying person, she deemed 
it a grievous sin to lose a single minute. The importance of the passage 
from time to eternity, the life of a God immolated for all the souls and 
for each of them in particular, the severity of a judgment without appeal, 
were subjects which left not Mary Magdalen enough strength to do all 
she wished to do in behalf of the agonizing ones. She wanted always 
to be present at the passing away of the sisters of her monastery. And, 



228 THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 

being present, now she read the Recommendation of the Soul, now the 
Passio, or the psalms or other devout prayers, now she spoke about God 
and induced the dying nun to make acts of contrition, of love, of hope, 
of faith, and especially of resignation to the Divine Will, making a 
virtuous sacrifice of what necessarily must return to the nullity of its 
origin. In so doing, it happened that while alleviating as far as pos 
sible the horrible but inevitable anguish consequent on the separation 
of the soul from the body, her charity was so efficacious that the agonizing 
one with these consolations expired, not sadly but with calm trust in the 
arms of the Lord ; and her companions were so edified by her death 
that every one of them wished to have Mother Mary Magdalen to assist 
at their last hours, deeming that blessed were those who expired in 
her arms. Even to the corpse of a deceased she showed those regards 
that her highly merciful heart knew how to suggest to her. She did 
not leave it until it was buried ; and, in the meantime, she prayed to 
God for that soul in the most fervent manner ; and whilst doing that, 
being nearly always rapt in ecstasy, she came to know, supernaturally, 
the state of the souls for whom she was interceding ; and, seeing them 
in purgatory, besides the prayers, the fasts, the disciplines, and other 
penances she practiced for them, she offered herself to God, and asked of 
Him that she might surfer for them in her body as many torments as 
would be equivalent to the sufferings they were to undergo. This God 
several times granted to her; so that, in consequence of it, for many days 
she endured such pains in her limbs as if they had been lacerated by 
dogs or bitten by serpents. Afterwards she was consoled by the sight 
of those same souls that, thanks to these satisfactory sufferings of hers, 
were passing joyfully and happily to the possession of the everlasting 
good. 

This great charity of our Saint was accompanied by, or rather took 
strength chiefly from the high opinion and esteem that she entertained 
of all, as she always thought more of the spirit than of the flesh, and all 
reasoning creatures she called by the name of souls. Of everyone she 
was wont to speak with reverence and affection, and never did the least 
word that might be offensive to her neighbor escape her lips ; aiid, save 
the corrections she was obliged to make with her subjects whilst in 
office, she always excused the faults and failings of others, and advised 
that as little as possible should be said of them, "because" (she used 
to say) "as glass which is handled without care is easily broken, so, also, 
our neighbor, being too much on our lips, is easily offended." When 
called to the parlor grates to see some outsiders, she would go and re 
main there with so much modesty and reverence, and show so much 
respect for everyone, that they would part from her very much edified 
and happy. The domestic intercourse with her nuns was a continuous 
exercise of charity and humility. The spiritually important titles by 
which she called them showed in what esteem she held them, and with 
what dignity she deemed their souls clothed as Brides-elect of Jesus. 
She considered herself unworthy to dwell with them, and she was fre 
quently seen to kiss the ground on which they had stood, and to honor 
them in many other respectful ways, as we shall see in speaking of her 
humility in particular. 




Burning exceedingly with divine love, now she refreshed her breast 

with cool water, and now she ran through the monastery, 

Crucifix in hand (page 162). 



228 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 229 

It is useless to say that the spirit of contention, opposition, and 
domineering was not in her at all ; and if, on finding fault with any of 
her disciples, she was answered with some indocility, she deferred the 
making of the correction until a more suitable time, cutting off for the 
present every cause of opposition. Thus envy, rancor, and the like fatal 
enemies of human tranquillity were wholly unknown to the heart of 
Mary Magdalen. When she met a nun or a lay-sister in the monastery, 
she was the first to salute her with a modest and ingenuously cheerful 
countenance. As to the superiors and the seniors, she always met them 
with that demeanor that one would wish to see in a novice on the first 
day of her entering Religion. She called prelates and priests God s 
christs, looking upon them as the representatives of God Himself, and 
she could not endure that the sisters should speak of them, even when 
the least occasion was given, with levity or disrespect. She always re 
mained on her knees before them until they ordered her to arise. But 
these were marks of exterior respect ; as to the esteem and love of her 
heart, they embraced in like manner the highest and the humblest of 
them. Finally, we must remark that many a time she postponed her 
spiritual exercises, most sweet though they were on account of the special 
favors of Heaven, in order to assist her neighbor in his needs, saying that 
she most cheerfully left God for God, viz., that as no one could see God 
in this mortal life, love for Him can best be shown by charity towards 
our brethren, so that the highest excesses of divine love in the Saints 
were rather consequences or rewards of perfect fraternal charity. 

To conclude so important a subject, let us beware of following those 
who are pleased to consider mankind like a herd of shrewd or foolish 
beasts, born only to feed, beget, move about, and return into dust. Let 
us rather learn and practice the maxim of fraternal charity pure, 
universal, without distinction of persons so clearly and strictly com 
manded us, even from the day when, as the Apostle says, the benignity 
and charity of our Lord and Saviour appeared, and afterwards practiced 
after this Divine Model by persons like ourselves, who, sanctifying their 
own lives, deserved so well of society. Let us render to each other the 
justice of love, esteem, and beneficence, so that prayer, fasting, the 
Church, and all the practices of Religion may not become illusory, because 
not corresponding to the spirit from which they are supposed to pro 
ceed. As doing good calls for a return of the same, it wonderfully 
promotes the happiness of the human family, and brings to our con 
science the sweetest testimony of having properly seconded the noblest 
sentiment of man. Though through somebody s wickedness our good 
deeds may not be well known, and our virtue may be denied its credit 
and value, yet let us not depart, because of this, from the practice of 
fraternal charity ; and let this be our consolation, that it is well-known 

" To the eyes of Him Who sees everything." 




230 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 







CHAPTER XXXII. 




OF THE ESTEEM AND LOVE SHE ENTERTAINED FOR THE RELIGIOUS 
STATE, AND PARTICULARLY FOR HER OWN MONASTERY. 

* 

|O make known what esteem and love Mary Magdalen bore to 
the Religious state, it suffices to quote what she very often 
said to the novices, the young girls, and all the nuns, the 
better to make them understand the excellence, the value, 
and the advantages of this state. She was wont to call the 
Religion (Religious Life) a paradise on earth, a paradise of 
delights, the garden of God ; and, comparing it to the 
Heavenly Fatherland, she would point out how there is in 
the Religion that order which exists between God and the angels in 
heaven. Very beautiful and profitable were the things she under 
stood about it in an ecstasy, and the similitudes by which God con 
descended to enlighten her. Once it seemed to her as if she saw the 
Religious state under the figure of a most beautiful virgin, mysteriously 
clothed, with various instruments in her hands, from which she under 
stood how the Religion perfects and adorns the souls dedicated to it. 
Another time it appeared to her under the figure of a fountain and streams 
of various liquors, and she understood by this the spiritual tastes that 
God communicates to the true Religious. She also saw it under the 
figure of various crossways, and she understood by that how the Religious 
Life is a short road by which to reach heaven. She also saw it under 
the form of other symbols, which would take too long to enumerate. 

Both in her ecstasies and out of them, she spoke of the Religion 
with expressions of the highest sublimity and deepest gratitude. After 
baptism, she deemed the grace of having been called by God to the life 
of the cloister as the greatest of all, regarding a religious vocation as the 
most sublime privilege God can confer upon a soul after having washed 
her in the baptismal waters. She was often heard to say that she would 
not have changed her condition for that of any king or monarch in 
the world, and that she did not even envy the angels of heaven, as the 
Religious state professes to imitate the Incarnate Word by the observance 
of the three vows, which the angels cannot do. She added that even if 
she were to be used as the dish-cloth of the monastery, she would regard 
it as a greater favor than the possession of any worldly greatness whatever, 
and she would always have considered herself unworthy even of that office. 
Hence she often used as an ejaculatory prayer these words of the prophet 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 331 

David : "7 have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather 
than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners" (Ps. Ixxxiii, n). Hence, 
whenever any person embraced the Religious state, she felt very great joy 
thereat, especially if such a person entered an order of strict observance. 
The least order of the Religion she held in high esteem, regarding it as 
written and ordered by the Holy Ghost; and she made much of all, even 
the most simple things of Religion, and would not permit them to be 
criticised in the least in her presence, nor would she allow any levity or 
scurrility in those whom the religious habit covered. A novice wonder 
ing how the nuns of said monastery could endure its fatigues whilst being 
nourished with coarse and unwholesome food, thus spoke the Saint: 
"These meals are sanctified by the Religion, and God places in them a 
virtue by which they nourish us as though they were of the best food ; 
and when God wants otherwise, He will provide," as the monastery was 
so poor that it could not then furnish the community better food. If any 
nun became sick, or grew so tired as to be unable to endure some labor 
prescribed by the monastery, she would suggest to her to beware of 
blaming for it the mode of life of the Religion, but rather to say : " I, on 
account of my sins, deserve not to be able to labor in the Religion," 
thus accepting from the hands of God with equanimity of sentiment both 
good and hard living. Likewise she could not endure that the sisters 
in attending to the work of the community would show any affected 
tiredness, and if she happened to notice it in any of her subjects, she 
addressed her as follows : u Dost thou think Religion must be obliged 
to thee, because thou didst work for it ? I tell thee that thou art 
obliged to Religion that makes use of thee, and the more this costs thee, 
the more thou shouldst rejoice." From this great esteem for the Reli 
gious state proceeded in her a very particular love for her monastery; 
hence she loved it as a dear mother, and, many a time speaking about it, 
was by her love for it carried into ecstasy. Often she repeated: u My 
Religion!" and being one day asked by a novice why she called it 
"hers," she answered: "Because God made me a present of it, and 
wants me to keep it ; therefore I wish it to appear beautiful and 
immaculate in the sight of God." Every morning in her prayers she 
offered her monastery to the Blessed Virgin, begging her to keep it as 
she kept the humanity of the Incarnate Word and her own purity. 
Sometimes she showed her predilection even for the cracked walls of the 
monastery, turning to them with these words: "Though the walls of 
these cells are half ruined, oh ! how good and dear they are, for they 
keep us separated from the world and prevent us from seeing anything 
which might give us an occasion for distracting our attention from God." 
She tried to impress as much as she could in the hearts of the nuns the 
greatest esteem for the Religious state, and the most loyal affection for 
their monastery: "Daughters," she often said to her subjects, "love 
the Religion as a dear mother." At which repetition one day a novice, 
being almost annoyed, asked her the reason. The Saint thus manifested 
it to her: " Because it is of no use to possess a precious gem and not to 
know its value; for, not knowing this, one does not esteem nor love it," 
signifying that such exhortation tended to make them know and esteem 
the benefit they had received by having been called and admitted to the 



AND WORKS OF 

Religion. To this end she sometimes reasoned as follows: "If we 
would intimately penetrate the dignity of our soul by the most close 
union it has contracted with the Blessed God by means of the three 
solemn vows, as a little country shepherdess, who, having been raised 
by a very powerful king to the royal dignity, dislikes anyone reminding 
her of her former state, so we should despise permitting ourselves by our 
own thoughts to be drawn to the consideration of worldly things ; and 
knowing that we have been made Brides of the King of the universe, to 
satisfy our craving for things not earthly nor corruptible, we should 
raise ourselves with holy pride to the contemplation of the everlasting 
riches of heaven." She also said to her novices: u As you are called to 
the Religion, you are called to serve God, to serve Whom is to reign, 
and to take part now on earth in what you will have to do forever in 
heaven, viz., to praise and bless Him." Teaching them the manner of 
loving the Religion, she told them that this is done when one obeys and 
lovingly fulfills everything that the Religion orders in the Rules and 
Constitutions, and good care is taken of everything. 

As to the vows of the Religion, she held them as divine things, as 
privileges and benefits most singular, which the Divine Goodness grants 
to dearest souls as a treasure and a prize of paradise, and she loved 
them as the bonds of union of the souls with God, as roads to God, as 
glories of God. With these sentiments she spoke of them on every 
occasion, taking very great delight in seeing herself bound by them, and 
stimulating her companions to do the same on their part, none of them 
ceasing to thank the benignity of the Sovereign God for the special grace 
of the Religious vocation. Every day, between herself and God, she 
renewed her vows. She once had in an ecstasy this beautiful intelli 
gence about this renewal, which she thus expressed: u Every time that 
the promises made to God are renewed, a renewal of union with God 
takes place, and the beloved soul acquires more or less union according 
to the state of perfection she finds herself in, and the charity she pos 
sesses. This renewal of the vows made interiorly by the soul pleases 
the Most Holy Trinity, as the renewal of the interior complacency the 
soul experiences in herself and about herself by this offering made to 
God, which always renews the delight of the first offering with a new 
complacency and a new consolation. It pleases Mary as much as if she 
renewed the vow of purity. It gives glory to the angels, as they see the 
fulfillment of those inspirations which we receive from them. It exalts 
the Saints, as they see their Creator followed in their own footsteps. It 
gives joy to the Choir of the Virgins, who sing anew the new canticle, 
seeing that perfection increasing which they practiced with so much 
love ; and their glory is also increased, as every time this renewal takes 
place, their feast, so to say, is being celebrated. The soul acquires very 
great fruit, as grace is increased in her, and the promises made are 
strengthened ; a new peace is born in her, and a new union ; and the 
fruit of that peace appears in her conversation and works. Oh ! of what 
dignity are these vows and promises made to God in the holy profession, 
when their renewal produces so many worthy fruits ! Hence we should 
not wonder that those who have light about this, O Word, as the Reli 
gion of Thy Most Holy Name [she meant the Society of Jesus], celebrate 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



233 



said renewal with so great a solemnity and feast. If the people of the 
world make so much of their birthday, or the day when they are invested 
with some dignity, how much more should we celebrate the day on 
which we united ourselves to God by so close a tie (which can never be 
untied) with feast and spiritual joy !" If this intelligence (though per 
haps the result of the enthusiasm of her heart more than of the heavenly 
revelation which it closely resembles) is a valid evidence of the esteem 
and love which she entertained for the Religious vows, let us now see 
the corresponding facts, that is, the perfection with which she knew 
how to keep these three solemn promises. 




234 



THE UFE AND WORKS OF 





CHAPTER XXXIII. 

OF HER OBEDIENCE. 



IISTER MARY MAGDALEN was a model of true obedience, 
as nothing was wanting in her that was required for the 
perfection of this virtue. Her obedience was voluntary, 
pure, prompt, cheerful, blind, and persevering. It was 
voluntary not only by reason of a vow spontaneously 
made, but also because she never needed the least stimu 
lation to be moved to obey. She fulfilled the commands of 
others as if they proceeded from her own will ; so that this 
very facility with which she obeyed was a source of grief to her, as she 
feared she would earn no merit for it. Hence she tried at least to con 
ceal her natural tendencies, pretending to enjoy the hardest and most 
tedious labors, and, on the contrary, to be annoyed at those which 
pleased her; so that the latter being forbidden her and the former 
demanded of her, as often happened, she might have the opportunity of 
feeling the weight of obedience. This she was wont to call a "hidden 
capital," because hidden to the eyes of creatures and known only to the 
eyes of God. Moreover, it seemed so little to her to be subject to the 
superiors, that she would place herself under her companions, and equals, 
and even inferiors. Among her companions she selected one especially, 
Sister Maria Pacifica del Tovaglia, to whom she so submitted herself 
that she would ask permission of her for nearly all her actions, though 
necessary and commanded by the Order. This she practiced because 
she deemed it so acceptable to God to act for obedience sake, that she 
did not wish to do the least thing without actually sacrificing it to God 
by means of this virtue. Hence, when she could not have the above 
companion, she practiced the same submission to anyone present, and 
sometimes to her very novices, as if asking their approval of her work. 
When working in the kitchen with the lay-sisters, she was humble and 
resigned to obey them no less than she would teachers and superiors. 
She was likewise always very obedient and of one mind with those she 
had as companions in the performance of certain duties, never permitting 
herself to contradict them in the least. She called that day a lost one 
when she did not break her own will or submit it to someone by obedi 
ence to this end. She thought it was better to live in the Order than 
in solitude; and she used to say, that though the state of solitude is one 
of great perfection, nevertheless she would always have preferred to live 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 235 

in the Order, as there is always an opportunity to give death to one s 
self, by means of the abnegation of one s will through the perfect practice 
of obedience. 

If pure obedience is that which makes one act without regard to any 
earthly interest, human respect, or self-love, but solely to please God, such 
undoubtedly was Mary Magdalen s obedience. Whilst she concealed from 
the eyes of creatures the hardships of obedience, that the most arduous 
things might be imposed on her, it is clearly seen that in obeying she 
sought nothing but to please God, to whom alone her sufferings were 
known, that her obedience might be truly pure. She was wont to say, 
for her own and others instruction, that she never looked at the person 
who gave the order, and to her it made no difference if the superioresses 
were kind or rude, holy or faulty, because in all she always saw God Whom 
she obeyed. Hence she obeyed with full will and great delight, think 
ing she obeyed God, Whom she desired to please in all things ; and all the 
creatures who ordered her to do services, she deemed as God s vicars. 
The manner of obedience, viz. , to see God purely in the person com 
manding, she gave assurance to be the most efficacious means to profit 
in religious perfection and in all the holy virtues ; hence, in the fervor 
of her devotion speaking to the novices, she promised that the soul that 
was convinced that the superioress stands in the place of God, and what 
ever she ordered and said was ordered and said by God through her lips, 
had obtained from God the following five particular graces: "ist, that, 
through her faith, God would communicate Himself more to that superior 
and that subject having such conviction ; ad, that all things imposed 
by obedience would be equally acceptable, both the pleasant and the un 
pleasant ones ; 3d, that the heart of that subject would always enjoy 
peace and tranquillity, and feel a contentment and great interior sweet 
ness ; 4th, that such a subject would be more apt to help the Holy 
Church by prayer, as Jesus hears the prayers of the obedient, and the 
most obedient will be granted everything they ask ; 5th, that of these 
souls God makes a crown to Himself, because as the crown manifests 
the greatness of a king, so they honor and glorify God in all their 
works. Free in her obedience from every shadow of self-love, not only 
was she more willing to do the will of others than her own, but she was 
always ready to postpone every work of spiritual satisfaction in favor of 
obedience ; because, she was wont to say, when the superiors forbid 
austerities, penances, and prayers, it is self-love not to want to obey. On 
account of pure obedience, she esteemed humble and lowly things imposed 
by others more than those of great perfection done by one s own will. 

Her obedience was also prompt and cheerful. No sooner did she 
come to know the will of her superiors than she undertook, without the 
least delay or reply, to fulfill it, leaving unfinished any other thing she 
might then have been doing. Neither were words of command required 
with her ; but the least hint .was sufficient, nay, as far as possible, she 
tried to guess and foresee the very wish of her superioresses, in order to 
anticipate its fulfillment. Of this her mistresses and the prioresses of 
those days several times rendered testimony. Not only was she never 
seen sad or unwilling in obeying, even when excessively tired, but she 
obeyed with cheerful countenance and spirit, as if the things required 



236 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

of her would be to her greatest liking ; and it happened, moreover, that 
if she found herself pressed by some internal trouble or temptation when 
anything was commanded her, she was resigned, as if she had received 
a marked favor from Heaven. Her promptness in obeying was such 
that, whilst her soul was raised to the most sublime ecstasy, at the voice 
of her superioress she either immediately came out of it, returning to 
her senses, or, still ecstatic, fulfilled what had been commanded her. 
Sister Vangelista del Giocondo, who nearly all the time presided at her 
direction, noticed several times both the one and the other. When, in 
order to obey, she came out of the rapture, as soon as she had done the 
work commanded she returned to it as before ; and the nuns also noticed 
that, whilst she was in ecstasy, most of the times she neither heard nor 
understood any other voice than that of the superioress. The two fol 
lowing cases are singularly remarkable : One is this, that Alessandro de 
Medici, Archbishop of Florence, afterwards (as we have seen) Sovereign 
Pontiff with the name of Leo XI, hearing that she had already passed 
fifteen days, eating but thrice during all that time, commanded her that 
she should never let twenty-four hours pass without taking some food. 
After this, during her long ecstasies, it would happen that when this time 
was nearing its end without her having eaten, she would come to her 
self, take something, and then return to her ecstasy. The other case w r as 
the ecstasy in which she remained during Holy Thursday and Good 
Friday of the year 1592, participating in the Passion of Christ, when, on 
the approach of the twenty-fourth hour of her fast, turning to her 
Divine Spouse, she thus said to Him: "O Word, Thou shortenest 
my time by obedience!" And a little afterwards, returning to her 
senses, she took some bread and water. Another case was when the 
confessor of the monastery, knowing that whilst ecstatic she had walked 
around on the cornice of the choir without any support, ordered her 
that in future, whenever she wanted to go there she should take the 
ladder. Hence, being one day carried out of her senses by the burning 
desire of going to that Crucifix, as soon as she had reached the choir, 
raising her eyes to that devout image, she remembered the obedience, 
and said: "One must go by the instrument;" and, thus ecstatic, she 
went for a ladder, by which she ascended the said cornice. 

The obedience of Mary Magdalen was not exterior and apparent 
only, but interior and from her heart, that is, practiced in uni 
formity of will with the person commanding. This appears not only 
from the promptitude with which she obeyed, but also from her not 
manifesting any opposition to or displeasure at anything which was 
assigned for her to do. Though greatly anxious to suffer, she did not 
cease praying to God that she might take the same food other sisters 
did, when after the seven years she had passed on bread and water, she 
was ordered by obedience, as has been said, to pray to the Lord to grant 
her this grace, which she afterwards obtained. When, being sick or 
convalescent, some delicate food or other things were ordered her to 
strengthen her body, although in the beginning she seemed unwilling, 
no sooner was it imposed on her to do it by obedience, than, without 
saying a word, divested of all self-love, she could fully and from her 
inmost heart submit to the will of others, as to that of God, saying : 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 237 

"Benedictus Deus" Never did she advance an argument to change the 
will of the superiors, to which she always conformed herself, deeming it 
always profitable to her soul. 

Hence the obedience of Mary Magdalen had also the other quality 
so much appreciated by the masters of spiritual life, viz., to be blind, 
that is, that not only should one agree with the will of the superior in 
doing a thing commanded, but also with his judgment, reputing it 
right and good/making no opposition to it, nor passing judgment con 
trary to the same. 1 This our Saint practiced with sovereign perfection, 
as she herself manifested when instructing her disciples. She was wont 
to say to them that one could not obey perfectly without entirely con 
forming his own judgment to that of the superior; and that it did not 
seem to her as if she obeyed, though she fulfilled a command, unless she 
had previously conformed her understanding to it. Therefore, when 
anything was commanded of her which was contrary to her inclinations, 
she tried her best to invest herself with the feeling and judgment of the 
superioress, as much as possible, by judging that what was ordered of 
her was the best for herself without investigating the motive, the end, 
or the intention ; in a word, without as much as thinking over it, that 
no particle of her own judgment would be found therein. Of this sub 
mitting her own judgment to others, she gave wonderful instances, 
especially in regard to the things God ordered her in her ecstasies, which, 
though she heard so distinctly in a superhuman manner, she never 
practiced without the consent of the superioress or the spiritual father ; 
and, if they made any opposition, the humble virgin gave up her own 
judgment to follow that of those persons who were for her the safest 
guide to eternal truth. She totally submitted to the superiors when 
they imposed on her to conform herself to the common food and habit. 
At the same time, she doubted not but that it was the will of God that 
she should live on bread and water only, and go barefoot, and dressed in 
the humblest tunic, as it was revealed to her in the ecstasy, and as after 
wards God Himself, by the miracle which we related in Chapter XII, 
convinced the superiors of what His beloved Bride had been super- 
naturally enjoined to do. The miracle would not have been sufficient 
unless the superiors had manifested their own condescension, so much 
did she prize the visible direction to which God wants the human creature 
to submit. Hence, at the end of her life, she felt she had reason to be 
pleased with it, saying there was nothing of all that had happened her dur 
ing life which gave her more peace than the certainty she felt of having 
done nothing of her own choice, but of having been guided in every 
thing by the will and judgment of her superiors. In this exercise she had 
attained to such perfection that her obedience rather than blind might be 
called dead, as her reasoning faculty, when it was a question of obedience, 
was as if extinct. This was the grace she so much wished for, and so 
frequently asked during her ecstasies, both for herself and for religious 
souls, viz., to wish for nothing, to understand nothing, but to allow her 
self, as dead, to be led by the hands of others. In this state, God often 
showed her to herself. Mary Magdalen began to practice her religious 

1 Unless, of course, it would be evidently wrong. Note of the Translator. 



238 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

obedience with such perfection when, on the very day she put on the 
monastic habit, she resigned herself as dead into the hands of the prioress. 
It being extremely difficult to judge the degree of perfection she had 
reached in this by constant practice during her entire life, God mani 
fested it by a very wonderful action He permitted to the Saint when she 
was at her last moment; and it was that, being just about to breathe her 
last, she was commanded that by obedience she should wait until the 
father confessor had said Mass and given Communion to the nuns ; at 
which, regaining her lost speech and acquiring new strength, she satis 
fied the desire of others in spite of the irresistible force of death which 
faced her. 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 339 




CHAPTER XXXIV. 




OF HER CHASTITY AND THE EXTERIOR EFFICACY OF THIS 
VIRTUE IN HER. 



]HE fact of Mary Magdalen s having consecrated forever to 
God her virginity from her childhood, and her having de 
clared shortly before her death that she knew not what it 
was that stained chastity, are two things which imply such 
and so great a perfection that our mind would vainly try to 
find any traces thereof in the natural forces of the human 
creature. There is nothing in the order of nature which can 
bear comparison with the stainless purity of this Saint. 
The whiteness of the purest snow, that of the purest lilies, the clearness 
of the most limpid waters, the brightness of the clearest sky, are vile 
comparisons for the purity of Mary Magdalen. When her parents wanted 
to make an earthly bride of her, she, faithful to her first intention, re 
sisted them with so strong and constant a will that she concluded to 
become a nun without delay, in order to remove all worldly obstacles. 
The very strong temptations against purity which she endured from the 
evil one during the first two years of her probation, viz., from the year 
1585 to the year 1587, served but to confirm her in her resolution, so 
that they became to her rather a source of merit and a crown. At the 
age of forty-two, that being the end of her life, with great complacency 
she could address her Divine Bridegroom in these words : "Thou 
knowest well, O my Lord, that my heart has never wished anything but 
Thee." And repeating these words several times to solace her spirit in 
the fierceness of the malady, when she saw all the sisters present, she 
thanked God also with great joy because she was dying without know 
ing, or ever having known, what actions against chastity were or how 
chastity could be lost. She had already told a sister who was her con 
fidant that she never knew what the devil wanted of her during the 
impure temptations, and that she had fought with an entirely unknown 
enemy. She so much abhorred everything impure that she had cast 
away her enemy before the temptation had actually assailed her; and, 
though she felt the first attack, yet, her mind and will being wholly free 
from every earthly affection and fully occupied with God, she could not 
even apprehend the aim of the temptations. Even from these, after a 
two years struggle, she was delivered by the Blessed Virgin, who 
miraculously covered her with a white veil, so that, like St. Thomas 



240 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

Aquinas, by a most special privilege, she was not again tempted during 
her lifetime by the least thought or suggestion contrary to purity, but had 
become in regard to this like a statue. 

So great a purity endowed even her exterior with something super 
human. Her looks, her gestures were so graceful, grave, modest, 
benign that they caused good and chaste thoughts in those who looked 
at her. Her very body when she was still living exhaled such an odor 
(called by the nuns odor of purity) that it greatly excited affection for 
holy purity. The same nuns attested that during the last three years 
that Mary Magdalen was sick in her cell, which, by its disadvantageous 
situation and the continuous exhalations of a diseased body, should have 
become a source of disgusting and nauseating smell, nevertheless, was 
always full of that good odor which constantly came out of her limbs and 
also diffused itself to her habit and the bed-covers. Her words were so 
powerful to inspire purity that they never fell in vain upon the souls of 
those who heard them. During her ecstasies, she was given very high 
ideas of this virtue, and she manifested them in the most wonderful and 
winning ways, as we shall see in her Works, in Part Second. 

She was also wont to manifest with feelings of evident delight that 
the Lord had granted her from her most tender years a particular love 
and wish for purity ; and that she wished to attain as much purity as 
one can have in this life, and that to increase this virtue in herself she 
would endure any pain. Through love of this virtue she held the 
virgins in great honor and reverence, and treated the girls especially 
with excessive marks of respect ; so much so that one of them who had 
come on trial to the monastery suspected that all the ceremonies of 
Sister Mary Magdalen might not be sincere, but she finally felt much 
amazed and thankful when she knew that the Saint intended thereby to 
honor virginity. Thus the more of sweet delight the conversing with 
such persons caused her, the more disagreeable and annoying it was to 
her to treat with persons settled in the world. She said openly that she 
felt more love and sympathy for the unmarried than for the married 
ones, though the latter might be more upright and virtuous in ful 
filling their duties. But notwithstanding these natural tendencies to 
purity, and the most singular privileges with which God endowed her, 
Mary Magdalen, deeming herself a person of easy capture and exposed to 
the gravest dangers, used to guard herself with such austerity of man 
ners, greater than which could not have been practiced by the most 
wicked sinner, who, placing herself at the feet of Christ, begins with the 
greatest fervor to enter the path of justice. To throw herself naked 
among thorns, like Saint Benedict, is such an act that it suffices of itself 
to show the force of her zeal for the preservation of holy purity. To 
protect this virtue she employed as the most efficacious means the fre 
quenting of the Eucharist ic Sacrament, prayer, devotion to the Mother 
of Virgins, abstinence from even the lawful pleasures, fasting, and, above 
all, fleeing from all occasions of seeing, hearing, or treating of things 
which might furnish the least incentive to impurity. Hence, regarding 
the cloistered life as the greatest boon, often transported by a live and 
grateful enthusiasm, she blessed and kissed with great warmth the walls 
of the monastery, and answered the nuns who sometimes asked her the 




She fiercely scourges herself before the Crucifix (page 191). 
240 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 

motive for so doing: " Don t you think, sisters, that I have great reason 
for doing so ? These holy walls separate me from the wretched world, and 
render more safe the most esteemed treasure I possess on earth" (by 
which she meant her virginity). And sometimes she exclaimed with great 
feeling: "Oh ! if the people of the world understood how great is the 
sweetness that in the blissful life is prepared for those who always remain 
virgins, they would run, like thirsty deer to the fountain, to immure 
themselves in the most austere Religions, so as to preserve their purity 
intact, for safer is the vineyard the more surrounded it is by thorny 
hedges." One day, while in ecstasy, she said that the Religious ought 
to be as distant with the lay people as the deer ; for which Jesus would 
be much pleased. Thus did she act very particularly; not that she 
would be rude and impolite in her dealing even with lay people, well 
knowing how to couple gravity with sweetness and religious modesty; 
but she was never familiar with any person outside the monastery, 
neither by conversing nor by writing, no matter of what condition or 
how virtuous such a person might be. Nothing short of an explicit 
order of obedience was required to bring her to the parlor ; and, as often 
as she had to go there, she went against her will, so much so that on 
account of this she often could not restrain her tears, especially when she 
was called there by worldly people, who to the eyes of the true follower 
of Christ cannot be but objects of commiseration and sadness. She was 
wont to say that for the time she remained at the parlor grates she 
would have more willingly remained in the fire of purgatory ; as in 
those persons she could only see occasions of trouble, cares, distractions, 
temptations, and danger of offending God. Whilst mistress of novices, 
if called to the parlor, she would say to them : "Novices, pray to God for 
me, as I am called to the grates," and expressed to them the wish that 
they might find some motive to soon recall her thence. On account of 
this so-openly-declared repugnance of Sister Mary Magdalen, the nuns 
had accustomed themselves not to tell her to go down to the parlor, 
except in cases of grave importance, relating to her those of less impor 
tance, that she might pray to God about them, and no more. Frequently 
people asked for her to entrust to her their affairs. She also felt a re 
pugnance at receiving letters, and never answered them unless compelled 
by obedience. lyudovico Capponi, her relative, having recommended 
some of his affairs to her, and manifested in several ways his desire for 
a prompt answer, could not get it until the command of the father con 
fessor intervened. As to her writing, it was short, simple, spiritual, 
without ceremonies or affected words. Here, too, and for the same 
reason as the aforesaid, most of her letters were communicated to her in 
a general way by the superioress, who would likewise answer them. 
Thus the Saint in this also kept aloof from external communications ; 
and, in so doing, she greatly satisfed her wishes, holding, as she did, that 
it was not becoming a Religious Bride of Jesus to have any dealings out 
side the monastery, or to write and receive letters, the reading of which 
recalls to the mind the things of the world. 

Such a retirement from the world proceeded also from that sovereign 
purity of her heart by which, even in the monastery, she kept in soli 
tude, and especially shunned every carnal affection. To this all her 



242 THE LIKE AND WORKS OF 

companions were able to bear witness, and she said during the last days 
of her life that she never felt the least attachment to any creature. On 
account of this love of purity, she would not allow others to show her 
excessive kindness. Hence, whilst yet a secular, noticing that her mother 
was too much attached to her, and that on this account she opposed 
her choosing the monastic state, Magdalen did all she possibly could 
to detach her from herself. In Religion, if any of her novices became 
too much attached to her, she dealt with her with such severity of 
manners that the novice felt compelled either to give up or to spiritualize 
her affection altogether. Moreover, she never touched anyone, neither 
did she permit others to touch her; and, outside of the excesses of the 
love of God by which she was sometimes forced to take her companions 
by the hand to invite them to love God, she abhorred even the simple 
touch of the hand, face, and the like, which worldly politeness requires, 
and which she always deemed unbecoming Religious persons. During 
her last illness, being unable to move herself, and, therefore, in need of 
being occasionally moved by the sisters, she said and repeated to them 
the following words, which also confirm how she was ignorant of any 
thing which may actually contaminate chastity. "Sisters" (said she), 
"if you think that to touch me in this way may be against purity, let 
me alone, as I will gladly remain in this torment and permit the worms 
to eat me up on this side." So great was the love she bore the angelic 
virtue ! 

Finally, she deemed as very useful to preserve the virginal purity 
never to speak nor think of worldly and secular things, so that, except 
in cases of charity, she did not want to know anything of the events 
of the world. This method she had adopted for herself; she also wished 
it employed likewise by her companions, to whom she often said: " Re 
member, sisters, that you are consecrated to God, and that you must not 
care for others but for Him, and try to please Him alone." In order to 
lead them willingly to solitude, she would make them reflect that the 
parlor is a cause of such distraction that a Religious could never leave 
it without having afterwards to spend a great deal of time in removing 
from her mind the images of things seen or heard, at least those in 
regard to her own peace. Another time, enlightened not by experience 
but by God, she said that the discourses of seculars often darken the 
white lily of chastity; and she took great delight that in her monastery 
there was a general abhorrence for the parlor and dealing with the 
world. Hence, whenever she saw a novice rejoicing at the announce 
ment of some secular visit, she was wont to say to her: " One can see, 
sister, that thou hast not yet become entirely ours, as it is customary 
with the nuns of Santa Maria degli Angel i to grow sad and not to rejoice 
when they are called to the parlor grates." If any other, subject to her, 
would fall into discourses of espousals, marriages, parties, and the like, 
she would not omit to correct her bluntly. Thus she tried to lead her 
disciples and companions to that chastity (which she possessed in a 
manner more angelical than human and which appeared so markedly in 
the exterior of her person) by suggesting to them both by her example 
and by her words the opportune means of successfully preserving a 
virtue as precious as it is frail and delicate. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 343 





CHAPTER XXXV. 

OF HER POVERTY AND THE ZEAL SHE FELT TO SEE IT PRACTICED 
IN HER MONASTERY. 



|UR Redeemer had just caressed some children when a rich 
Hebrew youth, moved by a certain fire of devotion, ran to 
Him, and, kneeling at His feet, thus asked Him: u Master, 
what shall I do to possess eternal life ? " Jesus answered 
him : "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments; * 
and, hearing how he had kept them till then and yet wished 
to know more, added, in a loving tone : "If thou wilt be per 
fect, go and sell all thou hast and give it to the poor, and then 
follow Me, and I will reward thee with a better treasure in heaven " 
(Matth. xix, 16-21). These words hint at the generous act performed by 
the Apostles in leaving all earthly things to follow Christ, and at the act 
which for the same purpose is practiced by those who strengthen their 
relinquishment by a solemn vow of poverty. From these words it also 
appears that this vow may be called the compendium, the culminating 
point, the most sublime effort of human perfection. In truth, he who, 
to walk in the way of the Lord, abandons not only his substance, but 
every affection and wish for it, gives during life the most solemn and 
the most loyal proof of his love for God. Thus he who possesses nothing, 
and wishes for nothing, can be but wholly God s. 

Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi protested to God every morning that she 
would exalt holy poverty on all occasions. Having continually before 
her eyes Jesus Christ, who was born poor, lived poor, and died naked on 
the cross, she loved poverty as a thing divine, and attained to such a 
degree of love for it that it was to her an unbearable torment to think 
that the Order provided for her above the strict necessaries; and, on the 
contrary, she greatly rejoiced when deprived of something necessary to 
her. Whilst the imperfect Religious are wont to complain of their 
superiors when their needs are not so promptly satisfied or in the manner 
they would wish, Mary Magdalen, on the contrary, never complained of 
anything, except that it seemed to her that the superioress had too much 
thought for her. For which (imagined by her humility rather than 
founded in truth), she grieved so much that she wept bitterly many a 
time. Because what was strictly necessary was not wanting to her, it 
seemed to her as if she did not keep the vow of poverty ; hence she often 
complained, saying that after having professed poverty, she should have 



244 THR LIFE AND WORKS OF 

to die without knowing what poverty was; so that the superioresses, in 
order not to increase her grief, often abstained from manifesting their 
loving solicitude for her. Sometimes, being more inflamed with the 
love of this virtue, she addressed to Heaven these words : " O my God, 
why dost Thou urge me so much to be poor for Thee, seeing that it is 
not permitted me to go begging my bread from door to door, which 
would please me so much? Nay, among all the consolations I might 
experience during this life, this would be the greatest, viz. , that Thou, 

my Jesus, wouldst grant me the grace that I might die upon a 
cross as Thou didst die for me." If she heard of any poor who went 
begging, she was filled with confusion and said : "They are not bound, 
as I am, to observe poverty, and yet they endure so many inconveniences 
of poverty whilst I endure nothing ;" and here, being fired by holy envy, 
she added : " Oh ! if it were given to me to go begging, and that when 

1 asked alms for the love of God, contemptuous words would be said to 
me, and that in bad weather I should return home tired and careworn 
and without any comfort, oh ! what a joy mine would be ! But I am 
not worthy of it." Exhorting the novices and her companions to the 
love of poverty, she thus expressed herself: " Sisters, we will be able to 
call ourselves truly nuns of Santa Maria degli Angeli, if, when being 
tired and worn out in the evening, instead of getting any rest or comfort, 
we should find somebody to reprimand us and give us the discipline. Oh ! 
what a grace, what a privilege it would be for us if, on going to the 
refectory, we would find nothing to eat ; being in need of rest, we would 
have no bed to rest upon ; having to dress or change our clothes, because 
of the poverty of the monastery, there would be no clothes to be given 
us. I, for one, would greatly rejoice at it, and I would consider myself 
bound to give my blood for the person who would grant me such a favor." 

She did all she could to be deprived even of the necessaries of life, 
hiding as far as possible her own needs ; and, if she succeeded in doing 
so, her joy was at its height. One day by an oversight of the sister- 
butler no bread was placed before her at table, and she took her dinner 
without asking for any ; nay, she was filled with so much joy that it being 
noticed outwardly, the superioress in the recreation hall asked her the 
reason of such excessive pleasure. Sister Mary Magdalen, as if accusing 
herself, answered that she felt too much pleasure at not having received 
any bread for dinner. Thus she rejoiced when she had to suffer cold, 
thirst, fatigue, and other inconveniences of life. Sometimes, retiring to 
the poorest places of the monastery, Crucifix in hand, she knelt down, 
and, turning to her Lord, with tears and sighs, she gave vent to her 
ardent desire of living stripped of everything for His love. " Happy I 
would be" (she was wont to say), " if all that this body needs would be 
wanting to it; and, instead of being gratified, I should suffer insults and 
abuses for Thy love, O my Jesus ! Then I would deem myself some 
what poor for Thy love." 

Like St. Francis of Assisi, she called poverty by the most honorable 
and endearing names ; ordinarily she called it the Bride of Jesus, adding 
that it should be the best ornament of His Brides. On these points she 
entertained very sublime ideas, and spoke with the most lively feeling. 
The fifth night of the octave of Pentecost, in 1585, during that ecstasy 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 245 

of eight continuous days, conversing with Jesus, she thus expressed her 
self : u Happy those who follow Thee only without possessing any tran 
sitory thing, as they shall have Thee for a reward, Who art the wealth 
of every wealth, the treasure of every treasure, and the infinite wealth of 
paradise! But who shall purchase paradise? Where shall sufficient 
money be found ? What can be given as a price of so great a good ? 
Who would believe it ? The nothingness, the nothingness ! To pos 
sess nothing for the love of God, to wish for nothing of this world, to 
wish nothing but God : c Dominus pars hcereditatis me&^ * The Lord is 
the. portion of my inheritance 1 (Ps. xv, 5). I say more: Nay, to wish 
for God only for the sake of God ! O most sublime and most rich 
poverty ! Thus those who are poor have money in hand to buy paradise, 
for the heavenly treasures are purchased with absolute poverty; and 
the poorer a soul is, the more God infuses His treasures into it, with 
which it can purchase heaven. Who* will not love poverty, which causes 
God to grant us so many gifts ? ^Beati pauper es spiritu ! ( Blessed are 
the poor in spirit (Matth. v, 3). ( Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine 
virtutum. Concupiscit et deficit anima mea * How lovely are Thy tab 
ernacles, O Lord of hosts ! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts 
of the Lord (Ps. Ixxxiii, 23). I say this of the desire of heaven, or of 
the desire of Thy poverty, which is worth heaven to me, as by it Thou 
wishest me to purchase heaven, and it is the price sufficient for so great 
a kingdom." In another ecstasy, she exclaimed : " O happy Religious, 
who are so honored of God that He Himself wishes to be their portion, 
because for His love, by a solemn vow, they left everything else ! O rich 
poverty ! Thou makest us the possessors of the Sovereign Good ! But, 
on the contrary, woe to those Religious who appropriate anything, 
trafficking with it as if they were not bound by poverty ! Alas ! that 
thus they come to renounce their part, which is God, wishing for and 
keeping other things besides Him, contrary to the promises made to 
Him. But God grant that at death, when judgment shall take place 
before God s tribunal, they may not be rejected by God Himself, and 
separated from Him Who is the Sovereign Good ! O poor Religious, so 
blind about their own state ! O simplicity and poverty, declining so 
much among the Religious, and so little known and kept by those who 
profess thee ! God knows whether this blindness will deserve any excuse 
in that Divine Judgment where not only faults but even many things 
that we regard as virtues, will appear to be faults and vices." 

This great love that Sister Mary Magdalen bore to the poverty she 
professed, she also practiced in a wonderful manner during the whole 
course of her life, showing evidence of it in her food, clothing, and every 
thing else of which she stood in need about her person. Not satisfied 
with having chosen a monastery of wholly common life and strict 
observance, she always endeavored to exceed the rigor of the rule 
and the vows. She not only never kept nor received a thing super 
fluous or vain, but even what was necessary she tried to reduce to the 
greatest scarcity ; or, if unable to diminish it, she would choose the vilest 
and the most abject. Of this ample testimony is borne by those ecstasies 
she had in 1587, during which she understood how God wanted from 
her an extraordinary and singular poverty, because of which she, whilst 



246 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

in ecstasy, cast off shoes and stockings, threw away the bed-clothing, 
leaving only the straw-bed, removing from her cell every object except 
the Crucifix, and went to the old-clothes chest, from which she took the 
meanest and most patched tunic and put it on. After that she would 
never put on new clothing ; so that, in her person and in her cell, she 
appeared to be the poorest nun. She always feared that she might pos 
sess something superfluous, hence she often cast her eyes around on the 
things she had. One day finding on her little altar a small piece of 
cloth for which she had asked in order to mend her habit, and which 
afterwards she had not used, she brought it back immediately to- the 
superioress, accusing herself with great sorrow for such a negligence, 
and begging of God that He would grant her time to atone for it. At 
another time, out of two dozen pins she returned one dozen, thinking 
she had more of them than she needed. 

In 1588, the superioress, Sister Vangelista del Giocondo, foreseeing 
that Mary Magdalen would pass a very bad winter with the light habit 
she was then wearing, determined to give her a better one ; and, in 
order that she might not grieve on that account, she employed this 
stratagem: On the night of St. John the Evangelist, on December 27th, 
after matin, in the presence of the nuns, she called the Saint out to the 
middle of the choir, and, making her kneel there, told her that the better 
to accustom her to poverty, she wanted her to take off her tunic ; and 
she having taken it off, the superioress asked the nuns whether they 
were pleased that another tunic should be given to her for the love of 
God ; and they having assented, she called out one of them, and making 
her take off the tunic, she offered it to Mary Magdalen, telling her: 
" This tunic Religion gives to thee for the love of God ; put it on and 
keep it until thou art asked for it." She accepted it in the true spirit of 
poverty, cordially answering: "May God reward you for it;" which 
greatly touched the nuns and increased their love for religious poverty. 

But the renouncing of property and of one s own things is not 
always an evangelical virtue. Of some philosophers we read, that to 
throw off every impediment to the acquisition of wisdom, they gave 
away all they had ; but theirs was not the perfect virtue shown by Jesus 
Christ, the principal aim of which is to detach our heart entirely from 
things temporal, from things necessary, and even from ourselves. Thus 
Mary Magdalen, being penetrated by this spirit, which is the basis, 
the foundation of the vow of poverty, regarded the habits and other 
necessary things as objects lent her by charity, ready to give them back 
at the least hint, loving to be in the monastery like a poor wretch and a 
beggar, received and kept there for mercy s sake. To show in a few 
words how perfect her detachment was, let these words suffice which 
during an ecstasy she addressed to the Crucifix she kept in her cell: " O 
Word Incarnate, if I thought that the keeping of Thy image would 
deprive me of the least degree of glory in heaven, I would give it up at 
once." She seemed to have no attachment but for that Crucifix, and 
she was ready to deprive herself even of it at any moment. Here is the 
true poverty of spirit; that poverty which, raising the soul to the bosom 
of God, makes it enjoy beatitude even in this world. 

On account of the same virtue Mary Magdalen experienced great 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 

delight when coarse and ill-dressed food was given her ; and, on the con 
trary, she tried her best to avoid eating delicate food, saying that it did 
not agree with her. More than once did the superioress through religious 
mortification send her around the refectory to ask bread of the sisters 
and to eat it at onfce, and Mary Magdalen used to do this with indescrib 
able joy. It also happened many times that, having been prevented 
from sitting at the first table with the nuns, she went to the kitchen, 
where she caused what others had left to be gathered into a bowl, saying 
she wished it for a poor little one; and similar other contrivances of the 
love of poverty were suggested to her by the zeal which moved her to 
the most perfect imitation of her Divine Spouse naked and crucified. 

As she well understood the welfare of the Religious derived its 
greatest strength from the observance of the vow of poverty, she omitted 
no care that her monastery, which she loved with a most warm and loyal 
feeling, might be distinguished in a singular manner by its poverty and 
religious simplicity ; hence, whenever she noticed anything having a 
tendency to alter it, she immediately informed the superioresses and the 
spiritual fathers of it, warmly begging them to provide a remedy. One 
of her novices had worked some figures with unusual ornaments, to pre 
sent them to her relations outside. The zealous mistress reproached 
her, and would not permit her to let seculars see them, much less to 
make a present of them. A nun had done some work for the sacristy 
which exceeded the usual simplicity ; and the Saint, one day when the 
spirit of God kept her out of her senses, seized and tore them. In an 
ecstasy during which she understood how much this simplicity pleased 
God, and how, like a watch-dog, it discovers the thieves and enemies of 
the Religion, and keeps the seculars away from it, making the Religious 
communities the dwellings of God, she finally concluded : " L,et each one 
guard herself and take care not to draw on herself, under the plea of 
compassion, the curse of some vanity. Woe, a thousand times woe to 
her who will draw the curse of vanity on Religion, and especially where 
a little light of simplicity reigns ! " This was her saying : Let the nun 
who loves not poverty be shunned and considered as if afflicted with 
leprosy." 

Her ears could not endure any criticism of the things of Religion, 
and she thought that the poorer and more abject these things were, the 
more they ought to be esteemed and sought after by the Religious, because 
they had professed poverty, and the poor appreciated everything, know 
ing that precious and valuable things were not for them. She was wont 
to say : " She that loves humility and poverty will never waste words 
to complain of anything." She also used to say: "She that professes 
poverty always thinks of the poor Christ, and thinks as little of her 
body as the king does of the cobweb," and, turning to those who com 
plained of anything, she used to say bitterly: " Remember, sisters, that 
you profess poverty, and that when the poor people go begging, they are 
very glad to get a piece of bread, even if it be dry and stale. " Moreover, 
she asserted that poverty must be the mark of all religious works ; and 
that, as the people of the world, in order to distinguish and magnify 
their works, imprint their coat-of-arms on them, so, in order to make 
the works of religious persons easily recognizable, they must be marked 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 



with poverty. Hence, she wanted this poverty to shine in everything 
in and out of the monastery, viz., that whatever was in it or came out 
of it should wholly appear as the product of a poor religious house. 
Though on account of the charitable feeling she entertained for the sick 
she would have wished that the Order should sacrifice itself, so to say, 
for them, nevertheless she wanted that even in the infirmary poverty 
should be kept, and that the difference between a sick Religious and a 
secular sick person should be manifest. Likewise, though she was very 
anxious that nothing needful should be wanting to her disciples, she 
would not tolerate seeing them have anything superfluous, and made 
them practice poverty on every occasion. If one of them betrayed too 
much attachment to any object she possessed for her own use, she took 
it away from her, or gave her another in its place ; and, often looking 
through their cells and little altars, she would remove whatever she 
found to be superfluous or too much ornamented, saying that the observ 
ance of poverty was incompatible with superfluity and vanity. She took 
from a novice a pair of paper angels which she herself had painted, 
simply because the extremities were somewhat ornamented. She 
severely reprimanded another who would not wear a veil because she 
did not like it, and imposed on her that for sixteen days she should 
present herself to her begging her for the love of God to give her the 
most worn-out veil that was in the novitiate. She would cause some of 
the oldest habits to be given to some who were anxious to have new 
ones, thus exercising the novices in the holy vow of poverty, the spirit of 
which, more by her marked example than by her voice, she transfused 
into the souls of her subjects and companions, so that her monastery 
made wonderful strides in the observance of so essential a duty. 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



249 















CHAPTER XXXVL 




HOW MUCH SHE ESTEEMED THE RULES OF HER MONASTERY, AND 

HOW SHE REFORMED THEM A LITTLE, WISHING TO DO THE 

SAME FOR ALL THE RELIGIONS (RELIGIOUS ORDERS). 

J 

]HE solemn vows which a Religious person makes are denned 
by the statutes of each regular Congregation, so that the 
persons professing are bound to keep the vows according to 
the Rules, Constitutions, and practices of the Religion 
whose habit is worn by them ; hence, he or she who breaks 
the vows breaks the laws of his or her monastery. Mary 
Magdalen held in the highest esteem even the least rule, 
which she would not have broken for all the treasures and 
honors of the world. She regarded every rule as the will of God and 
the dictate of the Holy Ghost. Unless prevented by sickness or works 
of her office, it was simply impossible for her to omit being present at 
an act of the community. Even the usages and practices of the monas 
tery had upon her soul the force of law. If she could do no better, at 
least she tried to stay a few minutes with the community, thus gather 
ing, as she was wont to say, a little of that merit which to the rest was 
given to enjoy in full. When she was wholly prevented from attending, 
she tried to make up by the desire and by humbling herself before God 
and confessing herself unworthy to take part in that observance. During 
the night or at an extraordinary time she did the works of her choice or 
of charity, in order to be ready to do those prescribed by the Rule ; so 
that the superioress sometimes seeing her very much fatigued, out of 
compassion for her would tell her to give up her work at once and rest 
herself; but she never accepted such a dispensation unless compelled 
by obedience. In order that this might not happen, she tried her best 
to hide her fatigue and needs. 

Silence was for her one of the principal points of religious observ 
ance. She was wont to say that a soul which does not taste the sweet 
ness of silence, can never taste the sweetness of the things of heaven; 
nay, that it will live always afflicted and troubled, as, by not knowing 
how to restrain the tongue many evils follow, which cause the soul a 
great deal of trouble. In regard to silence she was most observing, and 
even outside of silence time, she was singularly moderate in speaking, 
and always did so in a low and subdued voice, saying that such was the 



250 "THE LIKE AND WORKS OF 

proper way for Religious persons to speak. She greatly disliked the 
raising of the voice and loud laughing, as things most unbecoming a nun. 

She very much appreciated the observance of the constitutions, and 
when she thought she had committed some fault for which a penance 
was imposed by them, she performed such a penance without wait 
ing for the order of the superioress, protesting that she would have 
endured any torment rather than to see the least prescription of the 
Religion made little of. Every morning she offered her monastery to 
the Blessed Virgin, declaring to her that she would rather be a firebrand 
of hell than not to have always zeal for her own perfection and that of 
all her companions in the monastery. Hence, when she noticed in them 
some transgression of the rules, if able, she would remedy it herself; if 
unable, she would have recourse to the superioresses and the senioresses, 
that they might watch and remedy the disorder, saying to them that by 
neglecting even the least thing concerning the holy rules, the pupil 
of the eye of God (which is the Religion, on account of the love He 
bears to it) was offended. 

At most times, the busying of herself in behalf of others was intended 
to render them more prompt to attend to the community acts; and, to her 
subjects as well as to her companions, she was wont to give this advice: 
That they should never prefer their own comforts nor their other actions, 
no matter how devout and holy, to any order of the Religion, "because," 
she said, "in performing the common acts of the Religion, we are sure 
of God s will, of which we cannot assure ourselves when working accord 
ing to our own will and caprice; nay, we then expose ourselves to a 
great danger of deception and illusion." She added that they were 
really in great danger of being deceived by the devil, who, in order to 
remain in retirement and pray at their will, do not care to attend the 
exercises of the community, and, being deprived of their satisfaction, 
they grieve at it, for which they injure the religious observance, which 
cannot be kept if the sisters do not exercise themselves in it with fidelity 
and solicitude. She also advised that every one should attend the com 
munity practices with as much zeal as if she alone were bound to keep 
them, and be ready to give up her blood and her life rather than allow 
the least loosening of the rule and the constitutions of the monastery. 
But the keen vigilance of her spirit not being satisfied with the present, 
she exerted all her efforts to obtain the perpetuation of this observance 
in her monastery, and she said that such an observance and nothing else 
should be the legacy each one dying should leave to her surviving 
companions. 

Though the monastery of St. Maria degli Angeli proceeded with 
great regularity and exactness in the fulfillment of its duties, never 
theless the Saint, on account of the great zeal she possessed concerning 
the religious perfection and the glory and pleasure given to God by a 
monastery aspiring to the most perfect observance, entertained a strong 
desire to perfect also its rules and to add some reform to the constitution. 
One might also take this mania for reforming which fills the soul of nearly 
all persons of singular piety for a subtlety of self-love, but in reality it is 
a natural consequence of the greater knowledge they have of the duties, 
the imperfect correspondence to them, and the importance of often 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 25! 

recalling things to their first principles, that they may not be spoiled, viz., 
returning to the spirit of the lawmaker, in which true and legitimate 
reform consists. Macchiavelli, even in the political laws, proposes and 
recommends it to enlightened men ; and shall it not be the desire of 
the good that this may obtain in regard to God s law of which the many 
passions of the wicked, and the discouragements of the imperfect, op 
pose the proper fulfillment ? But in a matter of so great importance and 
delicacy, Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi did not fail to have persistent recourse 
to God, Who afterwards was pleased to reveal to her some points which 
He would like to have inserted in the constitutions. Of these, some were 
by her uttered in an ecstasy and taken down by the nuns, and others 
she wrote with her own hands ; and, being near death, she called to her 
self the father director and confessor, Rev. Vincenzo Puccini, and to him 
she gave a memorandum of all the things that, by the will of God, were 
to be added to the constitutions, and warmly begged him to unite them 
and coordinate them with the same. This, he having promised, was 
done after her death with the consent of the chapter of the monastery; 
and this reform was in 1609 confirmed with a special brief by the Sov 
ereign Pontiff Paul V. To dispose the nuns to a stricter observance, she 
often addressed to them the most cogent reasons, and she would exact 
from the novices before their profession a promise concerning this matter. 
This zeal of Mary Magdalen was not restricted to her own monastery 
alone, but embraced all the Religions, wishing to see them all in the 
highest fervor and purity of discipline in which they were begun by 
their founders. If unable to assist others proximately with her work, 
she offered to God for them the most fervent prayers and presented her 
self to Him ready to endure any pain whatsoever that they might resume 
their original fervor. She was wont to shed copious and bitter tears on 
account of the relaxation of the Religions, and she even said that she 
would not mind being considered crazy if she could have gone around 
the world to bring back the cloistered families to their original fervor. 
To this end, she often dictated, while in ecstasy, letters addressed to 
various regular prelates, which were written by the nuns present, but were 
not sent to their destination. The visions she had of the souls of Religious 
falling down like lightning into hell, condemned to the most horrible 
torments for their inobservant life, were the strongest motives to en 
kindle her zeal in favor of religious observance. Having once heard of 
some friars who boasted of observing poverty more than others (as they 
were scantily provided for by the community), and of trying to help 
support themselves by appearing lowly dressed, which would not have 
happened if the Religion had provided for them, the Saint, with sighs 
and weeping, thus exclaimed : " O blindness of the creatures ! O Religious 
state so little known ! O great misery, that they try to cover the very 
evil with what is really good, to the loss of many souls! These de 
ceived ones think that they will find the merit of their works, but will 
find instead their eternal perdition, as the inconveniences of poverty 
will have been the effect of their own self-love. In regard to this point, 
she used to say that the salvation of the observant Religious who is 
provided for by the Religion in all needs, is almost assured ; and, on the 
contrary, that of the Religious who is voluntarily a property-holder, 



252 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

though dressing poorly, is almost despaired of; for, if the latter had not the 
disposition to deprive himself of everything, there will be no heaven for 
him. About this most important subject of life in common for all Relig 
ious, she thus expressed herself: u I cannot see nor understand why those 
Religious, who by the three solemn vows dedicated themselves to God, 
do not keep community life, but try by holding property to alter so 
beautiful an order of perfect life. O accursed property ! which carries 
with it so many pretexts and inventions by which it often makes a thing 
appear as virtue which is nothing but vice and defect." And again : "I 
do not understand how Religious can with good conscience have par 
ticular revenues, and how the offices of the monastery must be kept with 
particular incomes and works, so that it ordinarily happens that Re 
ligious are more attached to the things of the world than seculars are. 
O my Jesus, make me suffer any pain that so many Brides consecrated to 
Thee may return to observe life in common, as Thou makest me see to 
my great sorrow many of those unhappy ones descending into hell." 

She also understood ecstatically how displeasing to the Lord those 
Religious were who occupy themselves in worldly pursuits, upon which 
she said, with great emphasis, the following words : " May it please God 
that this trafficking in exterior things in which the Bride of Jesus 
indulges, and which takes from her the time and the opportunity of 
doing her true traffic with God may it please God that in the end they 
do not take from her the beatific vision ! " Which threat was uttered by 
her with so great energy that she frightened those who heard her. In 
another ecstasy, she understood the enormous offense which is offered to 
God by those Religious who, not being satisfied with being themselves 
inobservant, prevent others also from fulfilling their duty; and, on the 
contrary, she understood how much pleasure and glory is given to God 
by those who, living in a Religion of lax observance, try, as far as they can, 
though meeting with obstacles, to correspond to the true spirit of their 
Order, thus becoming a source at once of good example and of reproach 
to their companions. Feeling compassion for these, she said : " Oh ! how 
grieved I am at not being able, by shedding my own blood, to obtain 
that those enlightened souls dwelling in a lax Religion may enjoy the 
happiness and opportunity I enjoy, by corresponding to the desire and 
interior stimulus they feel." Then, thinking of herself, she added : u Oh ! 
how better than myself they would serve God ! Oh ! much more grateful 
for such a gift they would be if they would find themselves where I am." 
Moreover, reflecting on the evil conduct of those nuns who, to please 
wordly creatures, perform works of fashion and make up attractive orna 
ments, she exclaimed, in like words of sorrow : "Alas ! tl-at those 
eyes that ought yet to be fixed on Christ Crucified and His divine beauty 
should busy themselves so unhappily to look upon things vain and 
miserable, and that those hands consecrated to God should be employed in 
making snares to catch souls and send them to hell ! O extreme misery ! 
O miserable and ever- to-be-deplored unhappiness ! " One day whilst she 
was looking with great attention at some flowers wrought with great 
skill by some nuns, she was asked by some of them why she looked at 
them so attentively. And she answered : " O my sisters, I think and 
consider that God knows whether the nun who made these flowers knew 




In obedience to her confessor, she revives and receives new 
strength " in e/\tremis " ( page 284 ) . 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 253 

how to take as much time to enter into herself and think of the stale of 
her soul and her obligation towards God, as she knew how to take in 
doing this kind of work." And she added : " O confusion of ours ! God 
knows whether I, too, have employed my attention in making acts of 
love of God as she employed her talent in flower-making. O nobility of 
the soul, especially of the religious soul, that is under such an obligation 
of serving God, in what art thou wasting thyself? O unhappy Religious, 
so blind concerning the dignity of their state ! " She gave vent to many 
other exclamations like these when considering the relaxation of the 
Religious. It was from the expression of these sentiments that the nuns 
gathered wonderful evidence of religious perfection which the Saint 
furnished upon every opportune occasion, and of which we shall give an 
abridgment of no little interest in the Works. Here we shall relate the 
two following ecstasies as appertaining proximately to the subject we 
treat of. 

One evening, the spirit of Mary Magdalen being absorbed in a 
celestial ecstasy, she heard the Most Holy Trinity calling her thus : 
* ( Come, my chosen one, take three victims and consecrate them to us, 
the Three Divine Persons, though they may be already consecrated." 
Not understanding what these three victims were, whether they were 
the three powers of the soul or something else, three souls were par 
ticularly named to her, whom God had chosen for the Religion; and 
she was given to understand that these would not be the last ones, but 
that before her death she was to consecrate to the Most Holy Trinity 
six others who were not yet in the Religion ; and that, of these nine souls, 
she was to consecrate three to the Father, three to the Word, and three 
to the Holy Ghost. Hence, having understood the will of God, she with 
drew to a secluded place with the superioress, another mother, and the 
three souls above mentioned, two of whom were Religious already 
professed, and the other a girl on trial, who wished very much to become 
a nun. These, then, were the three victims to be consecrated to the 
Three Divine Persons, one for each, as it was even more clearly shown to 
her afterwards. Turning to them, therefore, whilst still in ecstasy, she 
said to them : "Are you satisfied, O sisters of mine, that I should conse 
crate you to the Most Holy Trinity? " Upon all of them answering in 
the affirmative, she also asked them whether they were ready to submit 
in everything to the Divine Will; to which, having received an affirma 
tive reply, she continued, saying to them : u This shows the submission 
you must make of yourselves to the Divine Will, being ready to suffer 
everything interior and exterior to fulfill God s Will." Then, kneeling 
down, she said: "Now adore the unity of the Most Holy Trinity, for 
yourselves and for all those who fail to do so." Then arising, with 
hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, she added: "Be always right and 
sincere in every action and work, keeping your eyes fixed on God." 
Kneeling again, she extended her arms, saying : " Always have a great 
desire for your perfection and that of the Religion, and to be kept like 
the Word on the cross namely, lowly and despised and consider your 
selves such." Then she crossed her hands on her breast, pronouncing 
with force these words : "Embrace, O sisters, all creatures in a bond of 
charity and love, loving every one of them always in the bond of love 



254 TH E LIFE AND WORKS OF 

and charity." Here she told them to say the Confiteor, and made the 
two who had the veil renew their profession, and the girl the resolution 
to take the religious habit. She then took the hands of one of the pro 
fessed nuns and offered her to the Most Holy Trinity, and particularly to 
the Person of the Holy Ghost, not with the sound of her voice, but with 
her eyes fixed on heaven, remaining entranced for some time ; then she 
made it known to be God s will that that sister should promise to be 
always zealous as to herself and others for sublime purity of heart and 
holy simplicity, trying with all her power always to promote in the Re 
ligion the perfect observance of this holy vow of poverty, and she 
exhorted her to take for this end, as a patron, St. John the Evangelist. She 
took the second nun likewise by the hand, offering her to the Most Holy 
Trinity, and more particularly to the Person of the Word Incarnate, and 
remaining, as before, a little while without speaking, she told her it was 
the will of God that she should promise to have always a great zeal for 
the perfect observance, by herself and all her companions, of the vow of 
poverty and of true poverty of spirit, exhorting her to take for this St. 
Paul the Apostle, as a patron. The same thing she did with the girl, 
offering her to the Eternal Father, and she told her that God expected 
from her that she should reduce to effect the inspiration she had to 
become a nun ; which having done, she should attend with the greatest 
care to the practice of obedience and self-abnegation, and try with equal 
zeal to make her companions do the same, taking for a helper the seraphic 
father, St. Francis. The offering up of these three creatures and their 
correspondence being completed, it seemed to her as if each of the Divine 
Persons espoused the one that had been respectively consecrated to Him, 
drawing her spirit to Himself in a manner altogether peculiar ; and here 
ended the first ecstasy. 

There was on probation in her monastery a girl by the name of Cath 
erine, who had entered there with marked vocation, but, on the other hand, 
she was troubled by our three capital enemies, which wished to draw her 
away from the divine call. After having several times assisted and com 
forted her, one evening Mary Magdalen, whilst speaking with her, was 
rapt in ecstasy, and, turning upon her a look of encouragement, told her 
with a firm voice not to fear any assault, but to fight with great strength 
and to be sure that God wanted her to IDC a nun in that monastery, and 
that no sooner would she put on its habit than all temptations would 
cease and an ineffable peace would fill her heart. Having made this 
known, the holy mother took the girl with her to the choir, where 
ascending, as usual, the entablature and taking therefrom the often- 
mentioned Crucifix, she gave it to her, and then both passed over to the 
oratory of the novices. Here, in the presence of the prioress, the mis 
tress of novices, and another mother, she consecrated that girl also to 
the Most Holy Trinity, and particularly to the Person of the Word, she 
entering into the number of the nine offerings above mentioned. In 
offering her, she followed this order : First, she asked her whether she 
was satisfied that such a consecration should be made of her, and having 
received an affirmative answer, she proceeded to ask her this question : 
"Dost thou choose to do this by my advice ? " To which the girl replied : 
"No ; but simply to fulfill the will of God, which I believe is found in 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 255 

what thou now desirest to do with me. " Then the mother made the girl 
go through a brief self-examination; and, having said the Confiteor 
with her, she offered her in particular to the Divine Word not with 
words, but with the effervescence of her heart, as she had done with the 
first three. After this, she told her what God wanted of her, and assigned 
to her, as a patron, the glorious St. Ignatius Loyola, and then came to 
herself from the ecstasy. A few weeks having elapsed, the same girl 
received the nun s habit with ineffable consolation, but the enemy of 
mankind the same evening assailed her with new temptations and 
stronger suggestions. But the holy mother, who was then in ecstasy, ran 
to encourage her, speaking to her as follows: "I bring theegood tidings, 
beloved soul ; hear me : An archangel, beautiful and radiant, came with 
a scythe and cut off all the thorns by which thou hast been pressed from 
the day thou madest thy first covenant with God until now, except some 
little ones which thou hast to trample upon, that they may not grow and 
pierce thee. The thorns are the passions ; and, when these show them 
selves at the window, thou must fight or bind them. Thou fightest them 
by doing the opposite of what they wish ; thou bindest them by the 
recollection of thy obligations towards God. Place two guards over 
thyself; one at the door of thy soul and the other at the door of thy 
heart ; visit them often and keep them watching that nothing may enter 
there which may not be able to stand before the divine purity. Give 
death to self and bury thy own opinion and understanding, and thus 
shall thou enjoy the peace of which I spoke to thee. If I had all the 
angelic and all the human tongues, I would still be unable to tell all the 
glory thou hast given to God, or rather God has taken to Himself out of 
the oblation thou hast made of thyself to Him. And if thou wishes! to 
walk towards that perfection to which He calls thee, thou must not think 
of any impossibility in interior or exterior works, but have always a 
lively faith and a firm confidence in our loving and great God and in holy 
obedience. As the Divine Spouse chooses thee for the highest per 
fection, see that all thoughts, words, and works are according to the 
model He left us in His humanity. Jesus takes much delight in the 
Brides that are dear to Him, wishing through them to make the places 
where they dwell perfect." This is what was spoken by the ecstatic 
Mary Magdalen on the above occasion, but she said more, carrying into 
the soul of the newly-made bride perfect calm and ample understanding 
of the worth of the evangelical counsels. 

Among the things mentioned in this chapter, the attention of a 
Religious is called, above all, to what concerns community life, viz., that 
mode of life which, destroying totally the deliberative faculty about any 
subject whatsoever, embodies in one all the products of the house and 
those of the individual, so that, providing for all, it is lawful to none to 
choose or appropriate or dispose at will of anything. Upon this point 
I will make but two reflections, for the regulars, more than for the infor 
mation of others, as the former stand in greater need of the divine grace 
to elevate them to thoughts and affections more worthy of their vocation. 
I say, then, first, that the Religious more fervent and assiduous at prayer 
and in the observance of their duties, have also a great desire for life in 
common, and also endeavor to introduce it where it is not practiced. If 



256 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

their efforts are often useless, the cause of it is in the number of the im 
perfect, which ordinarily is greater and more powerful, just as the zeal of 
the bishops is seldom sufficient to put the nuns under this system, which 
is so essential to the vow of poverty, and consequently the cause of so 
much peace and profit to those communities which have adopted it; 
just as, I will also say, even the wish of the Sovereign Pontiffs that all 
regular Congregations would submit to the community life has remained 
almost wholly inefficacious, for the reason which has been advanced that 
the house had not sufficient income to live the life in common. From 
which I draw my second reflection, asserting that such a pretext, unless 
we call it manifestly erroneous, cannot be ascribed to want of spirit, 
to say the least, because, if in private life the individual by his industry 
provides for all his needs, by doing as much for the life in common the 
same results would be obtained for all and for each in particular. The 
concurrence of many causes to one end will even give more impetus to 
the whole so that it may be shared by each one than if each cause 
worked separately and for the individual benefit. Hence we must con 
clude that a remnant of wordly love and of self-love is the source by 
which some religious is obstinately opposed to life in common, and that 
he alone shall be able to justify himself who, having embraced the system 
of private life, does not persist in it because attached to it, or would not 
care whether the efforts of those who are more zealous and virtuous 
would meet with a happy result or not ; but because it is not in his power 
to do otherwise. 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



257 




CHAPTER XXXVII. 



SHE WISHES TO SUFFER PURELY FOR GOD, WHICH PROVES HER EMINENT 

SANCTITY ; WHEREBY, ON ACCOUNT OF HER BEING PRESENT, OR 

OF THINGS SHE HAD USED, MANY WONDERFUL EVENTS 

TOOK PLACE DURING HER LIFETIME. 
If 




|T is the heroism of virtue so to elevate one s self above the 
sorrows of nature as to aspire, with joy and longing desire, 
to nothing but the desolations and the torments of Calvary, 
whilst it is also lawful and proper for just souls to desire the 
enjoyment, at times, of the delights of Thabor. Mary Mag 
dalen De-Pazzi possessed this virtue in so heroic a degree 
that she seemed never to have suffered enough ; and in the 
year 1590, viz., at the end of the five years of her trial, she 
gave up to God all but spiritual taste, making with Him an agreement, 
which she then expressed in ecstasy and afterwards confirmed several 
times out of ecstasy. To a sister who offered her congratulations to the 
Saint upDn the glorious end of her combats, and the promise God had made 
her that she would enjoy in return His Divine Presence, she answered : 
* * It will be so truly, but without any sweetness ; it will only be for comfort 
and strength in trials;" thinking of this relinquishment of all sweet 
ness. Being also asked by the same nun about the motive of so sublime 
an act, the Saint manifested it in the following words : " Wishing to be 
able to give and offer to God something, and to remain for the love of 
Him without anything, and finding that I had nothing, as by the vows 
of holy Religion I have renounced not only every created thing outside 
of myself, but even my own self and my own will, I gave up to Him 
what he had given me, having nothing else to give Him." It happened, 
therefore, that from the year 1590, though God deprived her not of the 
ecstasies, yet, as she was wont to say, these were almost always without 
any sensibility of spiritual taste, and rather intended for the strengthening 
of her soul and its powers. Hence, one day whilst out of her senses and 
feeling her heart inundated with an extraordinary delight, she uttered 
these words in a tone of lamentation : "Ah ! my God, why dost Thou 
break the agreement Thou madest with me when I gave up all de 
lights for Thy love? n Thus, except during these ecstasies, desolation 
and aridity prevailed in her spirit, so that frequently, to excite herself to 
devotion, she was compelled to have recourse to those means of which 



258 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

the beginners in God s service stand in need. Sometimes she was wont 
to say that in thinking of God she became like a piece of wood or stone, 
without any feeling. Her own humility made this aridity even more 
painful, for, though it was a matter of her own choice, she feared lest it 
might be the consequence of her own fault ; and, feeling so much repug 
nance to the exercises of piety, it seemed to her as if she did not execute 
them with the necessary promptness. Of this she often accused herself, 
to a companion, in these words: " O sister, it is very hard, and a soul 
must have really tasted of God and be truly anxious to suffer, in order 
that she may be able to work, in the midst of so much aridity of spirit, 
as if she abundantly tasted of God." Thus she spoke to accuse herself, 
far from realizing that she was the very person who possessed so great a 
perfection. Hence the exercises of devotion, which she never omitted, 
no matter how much weariness they caused her, were so perfectly and 
evidently virtuous, on account of the purity of their beginning, prog 
ress, and close, that they brought her to such a degree of sanctity as to 
cause the most manifest signs and the most wonderful effects to be 
visible in her own person. From her eyes, words, gestures, and every 
movement of her person, it appeared that she was a Saint, and every 
body was compelled to adjudge her a Saint who saw her, though not 
knowing who she was. 

We have already seen how she infused into the souls of others hatred 
of vice, love of virtue, comfort, encouragement, by a word or a look, 
and sometimes by her own presence alone. All her companions of the 
monastery were able to testify to having experienced in themselves most 
consoling effects by virtue of their holy sister; and this was particularly 
the case of those who had been under her direction, some of whom 
affirmed that, being molested by great temptations, these would cease by 
their simply approaching her, or touching her habit, or just remaining 
where she was, or looking at her; or, if away in another place, by simply 
turning their thoughts to her, they felt sweetness and peace descending into 
their hearts. As true virtue never compromises with vice, she wrought 
in the souls of those who were stained with it salutary effects of con 
fusion, shame, and sadness. Among many others was the case of 
a Florentine youth, of noble family but licentious life, who, having 
gone to the monastery to visit a sister of his, who was a novice there, 
no sooner did she come to the grates, accompanied by her mistress, 
Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi, than without a word or syllable of courtesy to 
one or the other, he immediately left. On the day following, the 
mother of the novice came to apologize for the incivility of her son, 
relating how he was so terrified and confused at the sight of the Saint 
that he could not endure it for a single minute. Even brute animals 
seemed to feel some depression and restraint in her presence. Once, a 
wild-goat that had been presented to the monastery began to run here 
and there, so that it was not possible for the nuns to secure it. It 
entered the work-hall, where, on account of its restlessness, it threw 
those who were present into great excitement and fear lest it might do 
some damage. Soon afterwards Mary Magdalen came in, and, approach 
ing it, it immediately submitted to her, becoming meek and tractable, 
and allowing itself to be seized and led to where the nuns wanted it. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 259 

Another time, whilst the nuns were at dinner, by an oversight of the 
jani tress a mastiff got into the monastery, striking terror into everyone 
by its ferocious, mien. Mary Magdalen seeing the anguish of the sisters, 
who did not know how to chase it away, got up from the table, and, 
calling the dog (which promptly obeyed) to herself, took it by one ear, 
and the dog, like a little lamb, permitted her to lead it to the door of the 
cloister, whence she sent it peaceably away. 

We have already remarked that, besides her presence, the things that 
had been used by her communicated some of the superhuman virtue that 
was in her. Her nuns attested that they derived some benefit both for 
the good of their souls and for the health of their bodies, either by gird 
ing themselves with her cord, or by carrying her hair-cloth, or by touch 
ing the habit she was wearing. On Good Friday of the year 1592, Sister 
Mary Magdalen De-Mori, a nun in the same monastery, was much 
troubled by pains of gout and sciatica, to which she had been for a long 
time subject. Whilst suffering such severe pains, au inner voice was 
thus encouraging her: "If thou wilt recover, get somebody to carry 
thee before the mother, Mary Magdalen." Hence, having conceived 
some confidence in this inspiration, with the permission of the supe 
rioress, she caused herself to be carried to the place where the Saint 
was, and found her rapt in ecstatic contemplation. With the assistance 
of two sisters she approached her and touched her with the affected side, 
and this was enough for God to perform a miracle by means of His 
beloved servant. The patient felt that her pains had immediately ceased, 
and without any help she returned to her cell. Another nun was 
tormented by such excessive pains in the head that she felt as if her 
brains were bursting out. She went to the bed of the Saint, who then 
was seriously ill; and, having rested her head with great confidence on 
her shoulder, she felt instantly that all pains were gone. Some nuns 
also remarked that when the Saint was working in the kitchen, her 
hands seemed to possess the virtue of increasing the things ; as, with less 
quantity than that assigned to anybody else, she succeeded in making 
larger and more abundant dishes; hence, a lay-sister in particular, 
whenever she noticed that the provision was insufficient for the com 
munity, recommended herself to Mary Magdalen, who encouraged her to 
have faith ; which the lay-sister trying to do, she confessed that thereby 
she herself saw several times that the things were wonderfully multi 
plied, so that there was something left after she had given to all an 
abundant portion. These things wrought by Mary Magdalen during 
her lifetime, and which stand as a proof of her eminent sanctity, become 
accessories to the following prodigies, which, by their notable impor 
tance and on account of their being recognized and approved by the 
Holy Church, deserve that we should believe them to be more than 
probable. 

i. LICKING THE DISEASED LIMBS OF A NUN, SHE CLEANSES AND, 
HEALS HER. In the year 1591, Sister Maria Benigna Orlandini was in 
the same monastery sick with such a disease that the physicians judged 
it to be leprosy and wholly incurable, as evidenced by the inutility of 
all remedies applied. Discouraged by so obstinate and incurable a dis 
ease, this nun had recourse to the holy mother, begging of her to obtain 



260 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

her recovery from Jesus. The Saint promised her to do what she wished, 
and on the morning of St. Peter the Martyr, both having received Holy 
Communion, Mary Magdalen a few moments afterwards was raised into 
ecstasy. Thus ecstatic, she went to the infirmary, where, presenting 
herself at the bedside of the patient, cheerful in countenance and ex 
tremely sweet in the expression of the salutation of peace, she removed 
the veils from the head of the sister, and with her own tongue began to 
lick her head, ears, and neck, commanding her at the same time iiot to 
speak to anybody in the least about this fact, but simply to trust in God 
that she would get cured. It happened that after the lapse of a few days, 
the sick nun found herself cured and cleansed entirely from that pesti 
lential sickness. 

2. SHE MAKES THE SlGN OF THE CROSS REPEATEDLY OVER A 
PAINFUL SORE WHICH WAS TORMENTING A NUN, AND SHE CAUSES THE 
IMMEDIATE CURE OF THE SAM& In the same year, 1591, Sister 
Cherubina Rabatti, already mentioned, for a similar reason Wag greatly 
tormented by a sore which was eating through trie back part of her head. 
Now it happened that, on the morning of the i3th of December, whilst 
the nuns were receiving Holy Communion, the Saint, being in ecstasy, 
by divine disposition, did not approach the holy table ; hence the con 
fessor, having to carry Holy Communion to the sick ones, told her to go 
for it to the infirmary, which she did, and there having received Com 
munion was again rapt in ecstasy. During this, she approached Sister 
Cherubina, and thus spoke to her : " Sister, Unite with me in asking thy 
cure of the Lord God." And both having prayed a little while, Mary 
Magdalen made the sign of the cross three times over the head of the 
patient, and instantly the sore was healed, leaving her wholly free from 
the fever and the pains which had afflicted her. 

3. THE SAME NUN BEING NEAR DEATH IS CARRIED TO THE 
STRAW-BED WHEREON THE SAINT WAS SLEEPING, AND RECOVERS 
PERFECT HEALTH. The same Sister Cherubina Rabatti the following 
year, 1592, on account of two sores, was confined to her bed with 
such violent fever and spasms e that by the advice of the physicians, 
who declared all hope gone, Extreme Unction was administered to her. 
In the meantime, Mary Magdalen, the better to assist this patient, and in 
order to be certainly present at her death which was thought to be very 
near, had her straw-bed carried near the room of the sick nun. In this 
condition of things, without a ray of hope, humanly speaking, a com 
forting voice thus spoke to the heart of Sister Cherubina : " If thou wilt 
recover, enter the bed of Sister Mary Magdalen." To which inspiration 
willingly listening with great confidence, by the permission and in the 
presence of the mother prioress, she caused herself to be carried from the 
infirmary to the straw-bed of the Saint; and lo ! what a prodigy! no 
sooner was she laid down upon it than she felt better, nay, cured ; so that 
in about one-eighth of an hour she went by herself to her own bed, more 
out of caution than anything.else, and arose the following morning with 
her ^ usual strength and went with the nuns to recite the Office in the 
choir, and then followed all the other exercises of the monastery. 

4. MARY MAGDALEN MIRACULOUSLY CURES ANOTHER NUN OF 
A SERIOUS SORE. Sister Maria Caterina Chelli, a professed nun of the 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 36 1 

same monastery, had a sore on the right arm near the wrist. With 
physicians and medicines she had already doctored for two years, with 
out any good result; nay, she was getting so much worse that, a piece 
of bone being extracted from the sore, the physicians said that either 
she would be a cripple or would not recover. On the i5th of May, 
1595, tne P oor si ster experiencing in her sore arm persistent and most 
intense pains, presented herself suppliantly to the prioress, Sister Vange- 
lista del Giocondo, that she might help her in some way to be patient, 
as all remedies appeared to be useless. The prioress by divine inspira 
tion thus answered her: "Sister, go to Sister Mary Magdalen, and 
recommend thyself to her, who has granted favors to others and will 
also grant them to thee." Sister Maria Caterina went without delay to 
the Saint, telling her first how she had been sent by the superioress, then 
manifesting the reason, and making her request. The compassionate 
and good Mary Magdalen on hearing this went to see the mother prioress, 
and took her with the patient to the choir. There, the three kneeling 
before the altar of the Blessed Virgin, Mary Magdalen took hold of the 
sore arm of the afflicted sister, unswathed it, and then turning to the 
mother prioress thus said to her: " Wilt thou that I take out the lint 
from the sore?" To which the prioress answered: " If thou hast faith 
that she will recover, take it out." Then Sister Mary Magdalen 
having premised a short prayer, took out the lint, and bound up the 
arm without putting anything on the sore; and the pain immediately 
ceased. In a few days the sore healed without any medicines being 
applied to it, and in such a manner that Sister Maria Caterina was 
cured and as free from any scar as if she had never had a sore on her arm. 




262 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 





CHAPTER XXXVIIL 

OF THE HUMILITY OF HER HEART IN THE MIDST OF THE SPLENDOR 
AND ABUNDANCE OF HEAVENLY FAVORS. 



V 

|S humility is greater and more perfect as the subject possess 
ing it is endowed with higher virtue and talents, it must 
not be considered improper to mention in the last place 
this virtue of humility, which is the root and foundation of 
the spiritual life. The profound humility of the heart of 
Mary Magdalen cannot be better shown than by placing it 
alongside of her other virtues, which all help to manifest 
the perfection of humility ; and much would be detracted 
from the idea that should be conceived of her humility, unless the orna 
ments of her noble soul had been previously described. After the sub 
limity of her contemplations, the marvel of her celestial favors and privi 
leges, the perfection of so many virtues, the stupendous miracles wrought 
by God in this soul, her thinking so little of her own self, the low 
estimation and contempt she entertained of herself, should more than 
convince anyone that humility was so deeply and profoundly rooted in 
her heart that words are insufficient to explain it. 

Notwithstanding the sanctity of her soul, she nevertheless, on account 
of the pride and ingratitude of which she thought herself guilty, regarded 
herself hardly better than the devils. She deemed herself unworthy to 
serve God purely unworthy that anything should be imposed on her by 
obedience, unworthy to dwell in that sacred college of virgins, to unite 
her praise with that of the Brides of Jesus, and to converse with them, 
even if they addressed to her injurious and shameful words. She 
deemed herself unworthy of every grace and gift of heaven; also of 
showing charity on earth to her neighbor, and of partaking of the goods 
of all the faithful. She deemed herself unworthy to possess poverty of 
spirit and every other virtue ; and above all she thought herself most 
unworthy to unite with her Spouse Jesus in the Eucharistic Banquet, 
unworthy of all celestial light and divine inspiration, and rather deserv 
ing to be abandoned by God and left in the darkness of her sins and 
errors. Finally, she wondered how God preserved her and tolerated her 
on this earth, rather than hurled her down into the flames of hell. 
Among all creatures she deemed herself alone unworthy of the care and 
providence of God and of the love He bears to all that He created ; and 
she abhorred herself, as the most loathsome and blameworthy thing in 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 363 

existence. These were not flights of diseased imagination, but thoughts 
and sentiments of deep conviction, to the practice of which she dedicated 
herself with the greatest sincerity and frequency. The better to impress 
them on her mind and practice them, she had written down a collection 
of them for daily exercise, divided into nine distinct acts, because of 
the nine Choirs of the Angels : 

1. Thou shalt go to the Choir of the Holy Angels, and shalt beg of 
them that they offer to the throne of the Most Holy Trinity the Blood 
of the Incarnate Word, asking of them true humility of spirit ; and thou, 
O my soul, shalt humble thyself so as to deem thyself similar to the 
demons, by thy pride and ingratitude. 

2. Thou shalt go to the Choir of the Archangels, and shalt pray to 
them, as above ; and thou, O soul, thirsting for purity, asking it of them, 
shalt humble thyself so as to consider thyself unworthy to receive the 
aureola of virginity and serve God purely. 

3. Thou shalt go to the Choir of the Principalities, and shalt ask of 
them that they offer the Blood of the Incarnate Word to the Eternal 
Father; and begging of them for most perfect obedience and submission 
to the Divine Will and to all creatures for the love of the Creator, thou 
shalt endeavor to attain to this humiliation that thou mayst know that 
thou art unworthy that anything should be imposed at any time on thee 
by obedience, and that thou art also unworthy to be counted among 
the number of the truly obedient. 

4. Thou shalt go to the Choir of the Powers, and shalt beg them to 
offer the Blood of the Incarnate Word, as above ; and thou, O soul, made 
slave by thy sensual appetites, shalt ask the grace of being able to 
restrain each one of thy sensual appetites, and to the best of thy ability 
thou shalt come to this humiliation that thou reputest thyself unworthy 
to dwell in this holy college and unite thy praise with that of the 
Brides of Jesus. 

5. Thou shalt go to the Choir of the Virtues, begging them, as 
above; and thou, my soul, devoid of every virtue, shalt ask of them 
firmness, stability, and constancy in doing good, and thou shalt humble 
thyself so as to acknowledge thyself unworthy of every grace and gift of 
Heaven, and also of being able, while on earth, to help thy neighbor 
with offices of charity, and to partake of the good of all the believers. 

6. Thou shalt go to the Choir of the Dominations, asking them to 
make the above offering ; and thou, my soul, begging of them a perfect 
control of all thy interior passions and earthly affections, shalt humble 
thyself interiorly, acknowledging thyself unworthy to possess humility of 
spirit and every other virtue. 

7. Thou shalt have recourse to the Thrones, who will go to the 
loving arms of the Incarnate Word, and there shall offer thee ; and thou, 
my soul, shalt lower thyself so as to consider thyself most unworthy, as 
in fact thou art, of the union which thou dost so often enjoy with thy 
Spouse, by means of the Most Holy Sacrament, Who with so much 
love comes to sit in the midst of thy heart. 

8. Thou shalt go to the Choir of the Cherubim, and they shall offer 
thee before the most pure eyes of the Word Incarnate ; and thou, uiy soul, 
shalt go on in thy humiliations, asking of the Cherubim light to know in. 



264 THE LIFK AND WORKS OF 

thyself the Divine Will, the graces thou receives t every moment, and 
how ill thou dost correspond to them, deeming thyself unworthy of all 
light and heavenly inspiration and of being preserved by the Divine 
Mercy, whilst thou deservest, for thy ill-correspondence to the divine 
light, to be abandoned by God and left in darkness and error. 

9. Thou shalt also go to the Choir of the Seraphim, that they may 
offer thee to the most sweet, most pious, and most loving Heart of the 
Incarnate Word ; and thou, my soul, begging of them the purity of the 
divine love, and that thou mayest burn in those flames of charity wherein 
they burn everlastingly, shalt continue thy exercise and endeavor to 
arrive at this humiliation, viz., to acknowledge thyself unworthy that 
God should have till now preserved and tolerated thee, rather than 
have sunk thee down into the flames of hell for the coldness and 
frozenness of thy heart, whilst it is exposed to so many fires of divine 
charity. Gathering thyself up around the centre of thy lowliness and 
meanness, thou shalt acknowledge that thou alone among all creatures 
art unworthy of the care and providence of God and of the love He 
bears His creatures ; and, abhorring thyself as a thing above all else 
loathsome and despicable, thou shalt ask for grace through these 
most pure and loving spirits, to be, as was Jesus, purified and cleansed 
by means of tribulation, so that all the rtistiness of thy faults may be 
taken off thy soul, that it may be no longer unworthy of that most 
pure love. 

Such a low estimation of herself, cultivated by these and other 
similar acts, so manifested itself in all her works and words that she 
astonished very much everybody that knew her, as they found it impos 
sible to conceive how a soul so favored of God and endowed with so 
much light and virtue could entertain so vile an opinion of herself. 
Confessing herself constantly to be the most abject of all creatures, in 
that ecstasy of eight days during which God showed her the strength 
and virtue He wished to communicate to her against the devils and their 
temptations, which she was to endure pending the five years of her pro 
bation, with extraordinary feeling, she broke out into these words : "Oh! 
my confusion, that, being the lowest and vilest creature in the world, 
still Thou wishest to manifest in me the greatness and immensity 
of the treasures of Thy liberality and mercy." She was wont to call 
herself God s poor little one, a little worm, a little maggot of the earth, 
and similar names indicating self-contempt. Though so learned and 
enlightened in things divine, yet deeming herself the most ignorant, she 
asked the advice of others, be they superiors to her or not, even in the 
least things, and sometimes she asked even her very novices. She did 
not trust at all to her own judgment, and whatever she was doing 
seemed most imperfect and of no value to her; hence, sometimes in 
doing or saying anything, she addressed this question to others : " Does 
it seem to you that I have done or said well ? For the love of God, 
tell me whether I have committed a fault in that?" Upon which 
the sisters took delight in pointing out to her some faults which 
in truth did not exist; but she, believing them to be facts, accused 
herself of them as guilty, deeply humbling herself and asking forgiveness 
for them. In the matter of spiritual direction, although she was such an 




Whilst lying dead in the coffin, she turns her face from a 
lascivious young man who was looking at her 

(page 290). 

264 



ST. MARY MAGDAtEN DE-PAZZL 265 

excellent teacher, even though the thing might be of little importance, 
she recommended herself to the advice of others, with this expression 
of humility : " Tell me, sister, what dost thou think I might do to en 
lighten this soul? " In manual work, in which also she was very pro 
ficient, she thought that others were always doing better than herself. 
She exalted as so many Saints all her companions of the monastery, and 
humbled herself as contemptible and a sinner. She was seen several 
times kissing the ground upon which her sisters had stood. She extended 
her praise and veneration also to the sisters departed, speaking of them 
in a manner calculated to make everybody conceive a good opinion of 
them. Whenever a fault appeared in anyone, she, with humble and 
charitable manner, excused it, saying : u I would have done worse." 
And this was the reason why she placed herself below all the sinners of 
the world. u If God would withdraw His hand from me," she was wont 
to say, l there is no sin, no matter how grievous, that I might not com 
mit." Thus she deemed each little fault of hers as an enormous one, 
thinking that anyone else, had she received the like favors, would have 
corresponded better to them. In the enthusiasm of her humility, she 
called herself the cause of all the faults that were committed in the mon 
astery, and also of all the sins of the world. In an ecstasy during which 
some knowledge of the sinner s malice was imparted to her, having first 
bitterly deplored such malice, she inveighed against herself with these 
reproachful and threatening words : ( I am the cause of every evil ; let 
justice, therefore, come upon me and mercy upon others." Hence sprang 
in her that feeling of amazement at the thought that God, the angels, 
and the Saints endured her on the earth, and that the earth did not open 
to swallow her alive. One day she said to a sister : " What wouldst thou 
say, sister, if thou wouldst now see the earth open and swallow me? " 
And in the ecstasy and vision she had of the pains of purgatory, seeing 
those suffering souls and fearing hell for herself, she repeated several 
times, with a trembling voice : " L,ucky will I be if I do not go lower 
down ! " 

In the presence of the superioress, it seemed as if all her limbs were 
shaking ; and on being asked the reason why such a thing happened, 
she answered that knowing herself to be unworthy to stand before her, 
it seemed as if she heard herself addressed in the following words: 
" Depart this holy place, as thou art not worthy to stay in the company 
of these holy Spouses of Christ." When the superioress called her for 
anything, she threw herself at her feet as a guilty one, waiting always 
for a correction or a penance. Where the nuns met, she behaved with 
such reverence that she dared not raise her eyes, saying that they, having 
seen her faults, well knew her un worthiness ; and she deemed it a 
singular benefit from God not to be cast away by them. Hence, one day 
on going to the choir, she said to one of her novices: " O sister, what 
good have you and I before God that He should grant us so great a 
favor as to deem us deserving of being admitted to the company of so 
many mothers and sisters, to praise Him ? And in return for this bene 
fit what shall we give to God?" Hence, she declared herself very 
much obliged to all the sisters who had admitted her, and regarded 
herself as the servant of all. In token of her humble gratitude she 



266 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

often kissed the walls of the monastery, and said: U O blessed walls! 
If I had remained in the world outside this sacred enclosure, I would 
have committed so many crimes that I would have died at the hands of 
the hangman ; therefore have I reason to kiss you." Whilst in the 
choir with the rest of the nuns, she even thought that those common 
praises and prayers might not be acceptable to God on account of the 
gravity and the number of her sins. Sometimes it seemed to her as if 
she heard an imperious voice saying: " Let the wicked one be removed 
from the company of the holy ones, as her iniquity prevents their 
prayers from ascending, like incense, before God." A few days before 
her death she went so far as to say that she thought God would take 
her away from this life, that He might spare the earth some terrible 
punishment on her account; and she had already expressed herself at 
another time to the effect that she would not have wondered at any 
scourge that might befall the world on account of her being such a 
great sinner. These exaggerated expressions in the presence of so much 
virtue, seemed always the more incomprehensible to the rnind of the 
nuns ; therefore one day some of them made bold to ask her whether, 
when she was saying she feared the earth might swallow her up, that 
she was the greatest sinner, and the like, she actually felt that way. 
To which she answered with frank and certain accents : " Truly I do, and 
I have reason to feel this way ; for if I did not commit sins that would 
have deprived me of the grace of God, it is due to the Lord s having 
kept me away from the occasion and preserved me ; if others had received 
from God the graces and the opportunities to do good which I have 
received, they would not have offended Him as I did, and would have 
honored him better than I did; hence I know that on account of 
my ingratitude I deserve very great punishment." Having said this, 
she knelt before her interrogators, and, manifesting to them her past 
temptations as so many voluntary sins, she added : " Do you see 
whether I have reason to feel as I do or not ? " Another day, having 
been asked by one of her novices how she could think so lowly of her 
self, whilst she could not ignore the sublime favors with which God had 
privileged her, she gave this explanatory answer: "Know, daughter, 
that unless God had favored me with particular gifts, and almost detained 
me in this manner, I would have thrown myself into the greatest crimes 
that can be committed against His Divine Majesty. With you He has 
not done so, because you are obedient to His simple voice and serve 
Him without these particular favors ; hence I am more miserable than 
all of you." In a word, she took occasion from everything to humble 
herself. 

When she led the mastiff out of the monastery (of which we have 
spoken above) being asked why she was not afraid to take him by the ear 
and lead him to the door, she answered : "A beast was leading another 
beast." To a nun who expressed to her the wish to know whether 
on account of so many graces received from God, she had ever per 
mitted herself to be carried away by vain complacency, she said : "Dost 
thou not know that nobody should glory in what is not his ? and why 
then dost thou suppose I gloried in the favors God granted me, as they 
are all His ? " Another time, whilst one of her companions was reading 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 267 

/ 

to her some raptures and revelations which the Saint had written down, 
to see whether there were any errors, this nun asked her whether in 
such works she felt any movement of vainglory. Mary Magdalen 
answered: " I feel in regard to what you have read to me, as in regard 
to any other book. I simply acknowledge that I have had such senti 
ments and intelligences as you have read to me." Some note-books 
wherein the nuns had written several anecdotes of her life having come to 
her hands, she immediately burnt them ; for which being reprimanded by 
the superioress, and being asked whether she had done it through fear of 
vainglory, she answered No ; but that she rather believed it her duty to 
burn them, quoting the example of a good servant of God. Notwith 
standing this she humbled herself before the superioress, begging her 
pardon; and it having being imposed upon her by obedience never 
again to act so arbitrarily, she fully submitted to the will of others. 

The spirit of human self-complacency had therefore no force in her 
soul. As to how she called herself the cause of the imperfections that 
were committed in her monastery, she explained it several times in her 
ecstatic contemplations, thus weeping over the weaknesses of others : 
" Oh ! if I had been employed in fervent prayer, if I had been recollected 
within myself, or had done other similar things, it is certain that God 
would have enlightened me better than He has done concerning my 
faults, and therefore I might have employed some means to obtain light 
for these souls, so that they would not have fallen. She similarly 
explained, during her ecstatic soliloquies, that she was the cause of the 
sins of the world and the damnation of many souls; because it seemed 
to her that she did not pray to God, as was her duty, for the conversion 
of sinners, as we have said elsewhere. Among the L/ives of the Saints 
which were read, she loved in preference the lives of those who, living 
in community, had so hidden their virtue as to be deemed insane. 
These she would have willingly imitated ; and though the L,ord did not 
want her to follow this path, as she was to be rather an example and 
guide to the rest, still she did her best to be considered as contemptible 
and to be treated accordingly. She entertained a desire for everything 
which was lowly in the offices of the monastery, rather than for any 
honorable position ; and she applied herself to the former so cheerfully, 
that she really seemed to have gained a victory. One day she asked one 
of her novices whether she would have.been willing to be a nun without 
having a voice in the Chapter; and upon her answering No, as she 
wished to be like the rest, the Saint added: " I would be glad to remain 
in that condition, lowly and neglected ; and with pleasure would I give 
my place and my voice to another one, who, I think, would make better 
use of it than myself." 

For the same love of her own humiliation, she took very great 
delight in donning the most worn-out and patched habits, and making 
use of anything left by others. Speaking on this point, it is remarkable 
how for a long time she chose to eat her pottage from a bowl which was 
being used by a sister who was suffering from a very loathsome sore. 
Moreover, she frequently engaged in those acts of mortification which 
rendered her more contemptible, such as being blindfolded, having her 
hands tied behind, having herself trampled upon and struck, having con- 



268 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

tumelious words addressed to lier, and similar things, as we have already 
seen in the course of her Life, and from which she derived so much 
pleasure that not a few ecstasies took their origin from them. At times 
she asked one of her novices about her faults, and though the latter could 
say nothing about them, yet the Saint knelt down to kiss her feet, and 
begged her to trample upon her mouth and strike her with the scourge ; 
and when the novice was reluctant, she commanded her to do it in 
virtue of obedience, bidding her say nothing to anyone about it. Several 
times she caused herself to be scourged by her own novices and lay- 
sisters. One day while she was the mistress of the young girls she cast 
herself down on the ground in their midst and bade each one of them 
strike her with a slipper on the mouth. Which thing caused her subjects 
extreme confusion, and at the same time were to them occasions of being 
moved and edified ; so that often while doing such things they were all 
moved to tears. The better to induce her disciples and companions to 
ill-treat her in the manner she wished, she told them thai she was 
grievously tempted, and that therefore she needed to be thus mortified, as 
this helped her much to check her passions. For nine continuous years 
she humbled herself before one of her companions nearly every day, 
kneeling before her to accuse herself of the faults it seemed to her she 
committed, and then begging her pardon. She had her to inflict the 
punishment, sometimes with the scourge. Thus daily for a long time 
she acted with one of her novices, whom she commanded to impose a 
penance upon her ; and as long as she lived she always wanted to have 
one in particular to whom she would daily humble herself on account of 
her faults, to receive the penance for them, or at least some harsh and 
mortifying words. These faults, though, were so light and so imper 
ceptible, that the very nuns to whom she accused herself, asserted their 
inability ever to discover in her any stain from those things on account 
of which she tried to make herself believe and appear to be the most 
relaxed nun in the world. 

What was generally deemed harmless, she would look upon, as 
far as she was concerned, as a great fault. For instance, one day while 
breaking a pine-cone, she ate two pine seeds which she had not even 
extracted, but which had fallen out on the table ; this was sufficient for 
her to accuse herself of gluttony, and of having transgressed the Consti 
tutions by eating out of the regular time without leave. At every like 
deviation, though she was wholly inadvertent of the orders of the commu 
nity, she thought she was grievously violating the Rules and Constitutions 
of the monastery. When she heard of the faults of others, she immediately 
said that she had greater ones ; especially to the novices, after having 
corrected them with manifest profit, she said: "I, too, daughters, have 
committed this fault ; I, too, have this imperfection ;" or else: "Do not 
be frightened ; I would have done worse than you did." On the con 
trary, if she happened to see or hear of anyone s having performed some 
virtuous action, much confused, she would say: " Surely I would not 
have known how to do it," and similar other expressions indicative of 
humiliation. She often threw herself down on her knees at their feet, 
that the sisters might tell her of her mistakes, begging them most press- 
ingly to comply with her request. By this she placed them in great 



$T. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 269 

embarrassment, as they knew not how to grant her request, her conduct 
being faultless. 

With those who gave signs of entertaining a great esteem for her, 
she used all possible means which would not be offensive to God, in order 
to make them form a contrary opinion. Sister Sommai, one of her 
novices and a girl of great virtue, loved and esteemed this holy mistress 
to a Very remarkable degree. This being ill endured by the humility of 
Mary Magdalen, she thought (and obtained permission to that effect from 
the spiritual father) of making known to this novice the sad picture of 
the temptations she suffered during the five years of her probation. 
Hence, having 1 led her one day to a remote place, she knelt at her feet, 
and, breaking into most bitter weeping, amidst sobs and sighs, she thus 
addressed her : "Sister, I wish thee to know what kind of mistress thou 
hast, that thou mayest have more merit in obeying me, as thou art bound 
to do on account of the office I fill though I am unworthy, and I beg of 
thee to obey without thinking of what I am going to say. Know, there 
fore, that I have been the scandal and the trouble of this Religion ;" and, 
commencing with one of her temptations, she accused herself of all of 
them, as if they had been most grievous sins. She said that she had been 
gluttonous, thievish, wasteful, and hypocritical, as she had temptations of 
gluttony and of taking something to eat without permission, especially at 
those times when she was fasting on bread and water. On account of 
the temptations of pride and sensuality, she accused herself as a proud and 
sensual nun ; and because, on one occasion, she had prudently passed 
over truth in silence, she accused herself of being guilty of lying ; and, 
likewise, she considered as so many sins the suggestions of despair and of 
abandoning the sacred habit and the monastery, presented to her by the 
devil. Having thus given to the novice this most unfavorable picture 
of herself, she added : " If I had remained in the world, there is no doubt 
but that I would have ended my life at the hands of the executioner, on 
account of the many crimes I have committed ; and if I had been in 
another monastery where there was less charity, I would have been shut 
up in a dungeon for life ; and yet these holy mothers and sisters have 
endured and pitied me with so much patience ! Oh ! how much I am 
indebted to each of them ! Oh ! what mercy I have received at their 
hands." Several times during this narrative of humiliation, she re 
peated : " Behold, sister, what kind of a mistress thou hast. Pray for 
me to God that He may deal with me so mercifully as not to send me to 
hell, as I deserve to be sent. The young girl (Sommai), amazed by so 
unlooked-for a scene, if, on the one hand, she was touched even to shed 
tears, on the other, she could not cast off the thought that all were true 
facts which Mary Magdalen had manifested to her so vividly and sub 
missively. Therefore, feeling rather disturbed by being compelled to 
think that only afterwards had Mary Magdalen attained to that great 
sanctity with which she then saw her endowed, she went to the choir, 
and, prostrating herself before the Blessed Sacrament, said somewhat 
impatiently: U O L,ord, let it be what Thou wilt; at present, she is a 
great servant of Thy Divine Majesty, and I will always look upon her 
ani revere her as such." In saying this, as she afterwards testified, she 
felt all perturbation vanish, and, as if a veil had fallen from before her 



270 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

mind, she understood that all of which Mary Magdalen had accused 
herself as guilty had simply been prompted by her excessive humility ; 
and that she had had no other end in view in thus humbling herself 
than to appear before her as a great sinner. In speaking about this to 
the nuns, they related to her how the Saint had been grievously tempted 
by all those things of which she had accused herself, but had won a com 
plete and glorious victory, so that her esteem and love for this her dear 
mother greatly increased, and she, on her part, never tired telling her: 
"Sister, remember me ; thou knowest my needs." Whenever some of 
these humiliating things presented themselves to her mind, which she 
thought she had manifested to her, she immediately ran to make them 
known to her. She repeated them especially when she was doing some 
work near her: U O sister," she said, "I have already committed so 
many sins, pray to God to have mercy on me ; do me this charity." 

The prudent novice had feigned to believe everything as if it had 
really happened; hence the Saint was exceedingly pleased. But the 
same young girl once, wanting to convince the mother whilst she was 
telling her that she had offended God so much, answered her: u Mother, 
to offend God one must have a wicked will." To which the Saint, 
almost interrupting her words, immediately replied: u This will, by the 
grace of God, I never had ; in my heart I have constantly desired to 
honor God, though I find that I have always offended Him. I have 
always loved Jesus, as He was always very good to me." She showed 
in this manner and very evidently, though unintentionally, how 
innocent and holy she was. She thus gives us an opportunity to 
establish this maxim, that the fact that some Saints called and believed 
themselves to be the greatest sinners, though amply possessed of all 
virtues, was simply a consequence of the supernatural operations with 
which they were favored. As if sensibly touched by the Divinity, 
the greatness and perfection of the Infinite Being inspires them with 
such a reverence and esteem for Him that they are dazzled and amazed. 
In this immense flood of vivid light they know themselves, their natural 
vileness, faults, and corruption. Necessarily they conceive a supreme 
contempt of self, a shame, and an excessive confusion ; by which compar 
ing themselves to God, their imperfections and sins are so magnified and 
appear to them in so deformed and abominable a light, that they are 
unable to bear with themselves, and deem themselves, by a true and sin 
cere judgment, worthy of the greatest vituperation and shame. Hence it 
was wholly true what these Saints felt about themselves, that no person 
in the world was worse than they were, and that they looked upon it as 
a miracle of God s patience that He would tolerate them upon the earth, 
and other like expressions. Certain it is that to judge thus a special 
light from God is needed ; and those who are wanting in it know not how 
to form in themselves this judgment, and can hardly believe others 
capable of it. But that contempt and most low estimation of self was the 
foundation of Christian humility which God was laying in them, and 
upon which He afterwards raised the edifice of greater perfection a 
perfection so sublime as to lift them up to the highest and most intimate 
union of pure love with Himself, cleansing them thereby from all self- 
love and self-esteem, which is the greatest impediment grace may 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 2JI 

encounter in its wonderful operations. To complete this explanatory 
digression this must also be said, viz., that no one should natter himself 
with professing humility by the simple fact of knowing himself to be poor 
and sinful ; as such a knowledge, even supposing it to come from divine 
light, is but the first of the many steps by which man is united to God ; 
and thus, like the Saints, we shall attain to the fullness of humility, if 
from it we shall proceed to hope in God and to love Him. 

Moreover, the holy and noble Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi, through 
the feeling and practice of humility, not satisfied with making known 
to everybody anything in her which might have the mere shadow of a 
fault, made her most luminous virtues appear as deserving of reproach 
rather than praise. If able, she hid them; if not able to hide them, she 
rigidly criticised them, so that they might be regarded as faults ; and, not 
succeeding in this, she endeavored to persuade others that the particular 
deed they wanted to praise was the outcome of natural tendency rather 
than of virtue. Many acts of virtuous humiliation which she practiced 
with her novices became known only after her death, as she was wont to 
charge them not to speak about them to anyone. 

During the time she was going around barefooted, when any girls 
entered the monastery on trial, she, that it might not be remarked by 
them, used to cover her feet with a pair of shoes without soles. Never 
did she discourse with others about the heavenly gifts with which she 
was so highly favored ; she wished always to hide them ; so that, at the 
very time of her ecstasies, she complained very much of becoming 
so noticed. When she was wedded in spirit by Jesus, she said, as if 
complaining: "Thou hast promised me, O my Jesus, that as Thou wast 
hidden so was I to be; yet let Thy Divine Will be done." At another 
time, being grieved because Jesus made her speak while in ecstasy, so 
that she revealed all that He supernaturally suggested to her, she broke 
out into these words of complaint: "Please, loving Word, oh! please, I 
pray Thee, why didst Thou tell me so many things confidentially ; and 
now Thou wiliest that I manifest them? " Thus, at the moment when 
God wanted to reveal some heavenly operations or future events to her, 
she was several times heard to say : "Keep to Thyself, O Lord, keep to 
Thyself these secrets!" To those who recommended to her prayers 
some of their particular wants, awaiting with great anxiety to hear her 
opinion in the matter, whenever she had some particular light from God 
concerning it, .she did not manifest it, unless compelled by .command or 
necessity, limiting her answer to general and common words. Of her 
own will, speaking of herself, she never said anything but what helped 
to make her appear worthy of contempt and derision ; so that nothing 
would have been known of her celestial communications if obedience or 
an irresistible force had not, during her alienation from her senses, com 
pelled her to make them manifest. In an ecstasy, during which God 
revealed to her the mutual complacency He feels with the human soul 
and it with Him, she uttered the following words : " O my God, keep 
for Thyself, keep this greatness ; give no more so much participation to 
so vile a creature, as I am incapable of doing any good. Keep it ; 
keep it, O great God, in Thyself and delight in it. I, too, will draw 



372 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

delight therefrom ; but, on account of my weakness, I care not to under 
stand anything more." 

To the command of her confessor that she make known her intelli 
gences to others, she naturally submitted fully and sincerely, but at the 
same time with very bitter tears. Even to be simply seen in ecstasy was 
for her a cause of great grief; hence the mother prioress, to alleviate her 
anguish, was wont to send away those present, whenever the Saint gave 
signs of going into ecstasy, that when she came out of it she would 
think that there had been no witnesses to it. When by the superioress 
herself she was asked to make the sign of the cross on some patient, or 
to intercede with God for some grace by her prayer, she nearly always 
called upon some of her companions to join her, so that to the latter 
and not to herself the success might be ascribed. " To the prayer of this 
companion of mine you owe this grace ; to her you must be thankful," 
she tried to say after a wonderful success ; but it was useless, for the evi 
dence of the virtuous efficacy was such as to exclude any doubt that it 
might be owing to anyone but herself. 

When God was pleased to make known to her the heavenly glory 
of lyouis Gonzaga, the process of Beatification of the angelic Jesuit youth 
was being formed in Rome. The fathers of the Society of Jesus having 
heard of this revelation placed it for examination before the tribunal 
of the Sacred Rota, and this tribunal commissioned Mons. Alexander 
Marzi-Medici, Archbishop of Florence, to inquire into the matter. The 
Archbishop then, with notary and witnesses, entered the monastery 
of St. Maria degli Angeli to examine our Saint, who was then ill, but it 
required no less than an express command of obedience to make her 
answer the questions put to her, and afterwards she burst into such 
copious weeping that nothing sufficed to quiet her. With great grief 
and amazement, she repeatedly said : "Is it possible that I, so vile a 
creature as I am, should be written about in books and spoken of by the 
mouths of men, for these things ; " and only the divine maxim, to listen 
to the superior as if he were God, succeeded in calming her distress. 

As she avoided conversing and becoming acquainted with lay 
people, so she felt a special pain at being visited by great and renowned 
persons, both on account of her wish to remain unknown, and, more 
so, in order to shun honors and to follow that evangelical inclination 
well rooted in the hearts of the Saints that feeling which cannot 
mingle with the everlasting habits of deceitfulness and ambition, with 
which the Aristocratic class is wont to go forth on the theatre of the 
world, to the special insult of truth and poverty. Among the conspicuous 
visits received by Mary Magdalen at the monastery, was that of the 
Duchess of Bracciano, at the announcement of which, made to her 
by the doorkeeper, she pronounced these words: " If the Duchess of 
Bracciano knew that Sister Mary Magdalen is the abomination of this 
monastery, she would avoid even naming her, let alone calling upon her." 
Another visit was that which she received from the Duchess of Mantova, 
on which occasion the Saint, weeping disconsolately, thus expressed 
herself: "I know not why I should have to go and speak with these 
persons, I being but a nun like all the rest, nay, even the least of all." 
Finally, when the Most Serene Princess De* Medici addressed to Mary 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 273 

Magdalen a letter in which, asking some advice and spiritual instruction, 
she said that she intended to visit her soon, Mary Magdalen grieved at it 
beyond measure ; and, being commanded by the superioress to answer 
regarding what she had been asked, she thus expressed her mind, but not 
without tears : Mother prioress, thou wishest that I should be esteemed 
for what I am not, and that I should go to hell for my pride ; if I get there, 
these great people will not get me out." In the written answer which 
she gave to the most serene princess, she warmly begged her not to visit 
her, as she would pray for her all the same ; and thus she saved herself 
that time from the proposed visit. She was not so successful at other 
times, and especially when the princess was called to the throne of 
France, at which time writing to our Saint that she positively wanted to 
see her and to speak to her before leaving for France, Mary Magdalen, 
unable to prevent it, sent word to her, begging that at least she should 
come alone and privately, to avoid as much as possible her making 
acquaintances and gaining renown. In this matter the august queen 
pleased her, as we have seen in Chapter XXII. 

A soul so rich in humility could not but nourish a noble sense of 
this virtue, and consequently manifested it, even unwittingly at times, 
for the instruction of others ; in fact, innumerable were the ideas and 
maxims expressed by Mary Magdalen about the virtue of humility ; and 
it will be well here to relate some of the most important ones, both to 
prove in what degree this Saint possessed humility, and for the imme 
diate benefit and profit of our readers. Most beautiful was the definition 
of humility she gave when in ecstasy ; she said that this virtue was 
nothing but "a constant knowledge of one s nothingness, and a con 
tinuous enjoyment of all those things that may induce one to the 
contempt of self." In another ecstasy, speaking of the causes which 
moved God to unite Himself to our soul, she said that among them 
humility held the first place, and that it drew God into the soul that 
possessed it, like a magnet. She continued speaking in the following 
manner, which shows with what efficacy the divine light wrought on her 
spirit. "God," she said, u looking on the work of His hands, which by 
humility, self-knowledge, and annihilation has. lost, so to say, its being, 
and sees only its nothingness, gives it a most noble and perfect being, I 
would almost say a being without beginning and without end; a being 
(as Thou hast said, O Lord), that is just Thy own ; a being divine. Qw 
adhtzret Domino, units spiritus est ( But he who is joined to the 
Lord is one spirit (i Cor. vi, 17); not by communication of nature, 
but by union of will ; so that it seems to have no other will and under 
standing but Thine. Thus it works with Thee as if it knew not how to 
work in itself and by itself, and all it does seems Thy doing and not its 
own; but it is more Thine than its own, for though it concurs as a 
creature moved by Thee to the operation, yet the mode of operation is 
more Thine than its own, as Thou art the beginning, the middle, and 
the end of such an operation. Thou movest all with Thy grace and love 
and workest in Thy creature, but not without its cooperation. When 
the soul reaches this degree of humility, God is so pleased with its anni 
hilation that He enlarges its nothingness and there He permanently 
dwells." In giving the reason why God does not unite with proud souls, 



274 T R E LIFE AND WORKS OF 

she added : " God refuses to unite Himself to that soul which refuses to 
acknowledge its own nothingness, because, being in Himself and of 
Himself glorious, and not being in need of anyone, if he united Himself 
to a soul so unjust and blind, He would seem to be in need of this 
soul rather than to be what He is in Himself, happy. As in the creation 
of the universe, nothingness preceded (if that which is not can be said 
to precede) all that the Creator made in this world, and the union He 
made of Himself, giving the being and the participation of Himself to 
all creatures, according to the capacity and the nature of each, whereby 
every creature becomes united with and dependent on God ; so, in order 
to accomplish this other union with the soul and receive a world of 
graces, this annihilation must be found in the soul. As in the creation 
(by grace) of the microcosm which is the reasonable creature, and in 
the union of the Word with the humanity, He wanted an anterior annihi- 
hilation in her who was to be His Mother. * Ecce ancilla Domini^ 
< Behold the handmaid of the Lord (Luke i, 38); that by this act 
she might become more worthy and capable of a glory and greatness so 
wonderful that neither she nor any blessed spirit or mere creature can 
fully comprehend it (the dignity of such a Mother being an infinite 
grace); so, in order that the Divine Word may unite with the soul, this 
annihilation must precede, and, by means of it or this being done, God 
comes to do wonderful things in that soul, and of it can be said: ^ 
fecit mihi ntagna qui potens est ; quid rcspexit humilitatcm ancillcz 
But even this annihilation the soul does not know in itself; but, by anni 
hilating itself, it attains to the greatness of God, Who unites Himself to 
the soul possessed of such annihilation. This soul then acknowledges 
God as glorious in Himself, attributing to Him all honor and glory, and 
not to itself. Hence God Himself takes such pleasure in this soul that 
He remains continually united to it. By means of this union, this soul 
partakes as far as is possible (remaining in its being as to the nature) of 
the divine perfections. n 

Another time, whilst admiring ecstatically the humility of Jesus in 
washing the feet of His disciples, she gave utterance to these expressions 
of praise: "O humility, that exalteth the things that are not, and dost 
lower the things that are, and therefore exaltest man, who is a mere 
nothing, and dost lower God, Who is everything ! O humility, that being 
victorious, and raising thyself, reachest the very throne of the Most 
Holy Trinity ! O humility, how thou producest and nourishest purity 
with thy breasts ! Thou, as a mother, givest suck to the poor in spirit 
and leadest them under the shade of the Word, and embracest the 
ignorant and bringest them to the Bride Church ; thou dost nourish the 
faint-hearted, crown the virgins, give the palm to the martyrs, put the 
diadem on thy priests in heaven, give satiety of thy vision to the 
hermits, in a word, to all the Saints ; and during the pilgrimage of this 
life thou renderest us patient and constant, tranquil and merry before 
the arrogance of the world that would swallow up all in the abyss of a 
laborious and troublesome career." One day, comparing purity and 
humility, she preferred the latter to the former, and, to show that 
purity is not pleasing to God without humility, she concluded as follows : 
4 Many virgins will be found in hell; but no humble souls can be sent 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 275 

there, though they may be without this purity." Hence she insisted 
on the necessity of this virtue, especially in religious persons; and 
exhorting the superioresses and the mistresses to exercise their subjects 
in the practice of this virtue, she was wont to say: " Humility must be 
infused into the young plants of the Religion like oil in a lamp ; and as 
the wick cannot bum without oil, so these young plants will not yield 
to the splendor of the Religion in sanctity and perfection, unless at every 
moment a fresh stimulus be given them and they are tried in this virtue 
of humility." She added: " Let no one rest until death from the prac 
tice of humility. Let him that has the care of souls not grow tired of 
making them practice this virtue as long as they are imprisoned in the 
body; as humility is a ladder of many steps, the top of which cannot be 
reached." This virtue during the time Mary Magdalen was mistress of 
novices she admirably practiced towards her novices and with herself 
always ; as she did not cease until death to humble herself in the most 
constant and profitable manner, triumphing in the most extensive and 
radical way over the inevitable and constant instigations of pride, to 
which, on account of corrupt nature, the human soul is subject. We 
shall see in the following chapter, which embraces the last period of 
her life, how she finally conquered. 




276 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 






:- " -; ; : 




CHAPTER XXXIX. 




THE LAST ILLNESS OF SISTER MARY MAGDALEN, DURING WHICH SHE 

ATTAINS TO A NAKED SUFFERING. PROLONGATION OF THE 

SAME ILLNESS, DURING WHICH SHE IS ELECTED 

SUPERIORESS. HER HAPPY DEATH. 



US the natural motion increases the nearer it approaches its 
centre, so this blessed mother, the nearer she approached 
the end of her life and her centre, God,- the more anxious 
and thirsty she became to suffer for the love of Him Who 
was the necessary and vital strength of her spirit. This 
strength, which proceeded from the purest and sublimest 
love of God, besides experiencing the greater velocity of this 
motion from getting nearer the limits of time, felt at the same 
time great reluctance to submit to the necessity of inaction. The desire 
to suffer, natural to the heart of Mary Magdalen, was subject to the 
effects that human nature encounters in its physical condition. Hence, 
as a natural lamentation, she emitted more loudly, when near her end, 
her own characteristic motto: "Non mori, sed pati! " " Let me suffer, 
and not die!" She felt an irrepressible panting to be with Christ in 
heaven ; but not without having first obtained on earth the fullness of a 
wonderful suffering, which it seemed to her she never had reached amidst 
the innumerable sufferings she endured in her life. Hence she grieved 
excessively; fearing the time might be wanting to her in which to give 
God so heroic a testimony of affection. u In heaven," she said, " there 
is no place for this glorious suffering; therefore, in order to attain it, I 
am compelled to wish for more life. One day, in 1602, hearing while in 
the refectory the reading of a treatise on the naked suffering for the love 
of God, she became so inflamed with the desire of undergoing it, that, 
unable to endure calmly that impulse, she rose from the table, and going 
to Sister Vangelista del Giocondo, her particular directress, manifested 
to her how she felt within herself that God would finally grant her a 
true and naked suffering. Therefore she begged her not to interfere 
with her in this by procuring any comforts for her; and then, feeling 
very happy on account of this presentiment, as if it had been the happiest 
news she could hear, she went to the choir to express to God all the 
gratitude her burning heart knew or could suggest to her. Not many 
days thereafter, during the same year, she was attacked and brought low 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 277 

by a very severe catarrh, which, caused a violent and continuous cough 
and made her lose her strength in a short time, so that she could 
scarcely keep alive. Notwithstanding this she did not relax in the least 
her ordinary austerity, neither did she make use of any remedy, fearing 
lest her self-love might deceive her; nay, thinking that the lassitude 
caused by the cough, and the fever which at certain times accompanied 
it, might be laziness or slothfulness of her senses, she was wont to say : 
u Oh, how one must be on guard on account of these senses, which are 
so lazy and cowardly, and which want me to regard what is slothfulness 
in God s service as mere weakness and infirmity, so that they might take 
rest." With an inexorable accent, she addressed her body in these 
words : " I know thee well; I will never do thy will, but God s." 

It was April, 1603, and the health of Mary Magdalen was about the 
same as we have described it. One day of said month, whilst she, as 
mistress, was assisting one of her sick novices, a vein burst in her breast, 
and she vomited a great deal of blood, but she said not a word to anybody 
about it, in order to avoid what would naturally have been the consequence 
of her mentioning it the compassion of others. The day following, 
while accompanying a novice to the parlor grates, Mary Magdalen again 
had a hemorrhage, and, as she could not hide it, she was compelled by 
obedience to go to bed and take some medicine for it. Having taken a 
few days 7 rest without getting any worse, she thought she had wholly 
recovered, and quickly and cheerfully returned to her former mode of life. 
But the disease was such as not to be baffled so easily; hence, from day 
to day, Mary Magdalen went on feeling its sad results with notable loss 
of strength. She grieved at this very much, fearing, as usual, it might 
be a snare of the devil, and, with tears and painful feelings of amazement, 
she said continually : " I stop to think whether I am the same one that 
I was before, when with a resolution I overcame all great difficulties, 
and now, the more I try, the more I feel weakened." In the month of 
July of the same year, she again suffered from hemorrhage and in greater 
quantity ; so that the superioress, who, having noticed so many wonders 
in her and that God was leading her by extraordinary ways, had not 
dared till then to make her remain in bed, now compelled her to do so. As 
she grew worse in the following August, she vomited so much blood that 
the physicians themselves deemed her recovery impossible, fearing, more 
over, to see her choked at any moment. Her novices, together with the 
nuns, were already bewailing her loss ; but she, though brought to such 
an extremity, told them to be of good cheer, as she surely would not die 
of that malady, it being the will of God that she should complete her term 
of mistress of novices ; in fact, she continued improving so that, on All 
Saints Day of the following November, she resumed the charge of the 
novices, and returned to the community life and the routine of the mon 
astery, to the amazement and joy of all. But at times she vomited some 
blood, at which the novices especially could not give themselves peace. 
She repeated to them that they should trust in God and not waver, even if 
she vomited a barrel of blood daily, as she knew to a certainty that it was 
God s will that she should live to end her term of the office she then filled 
over them. Notwithstanding so poor a state of health, she prevailed on 
the superiors to allow her to abstain and fast with the community 



2/8 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

during the following Lent of 1604 ; but, having rigorously kept it till 
the Saturday before Passion Sunday, on the latter day she again had a 
hemorrhage, so that she was compelled by obedience to interrupt its 
observance, and, weeping, she said that on account of her sins she had 
not deserved to complete it, though after a few days she resumed the 
Lenten practices and continued them with the rest till the end. 

On the 24th of June of the same year, her spirit having already 
been subjected for some time to a singular aridity, it was raised above 
its senses, she understanding, though, that this was to be the last ecstasy 
of her life. During it, the Lord showed to her the naked suffering which 
He wanted to make her taste, by means of a very serious infirmity with 
an extreme desolation of spirit, regarding which she thus expressed 
herself: "O my Jesus, Thou wilt that I become as a very little girl; 
nay, Thou wilt that I be born again ! O how small must I become 
again ! These souls will no longer recognize me on account of my 
littleness. " Wholly burning with the desire of being tortured from head 
to foot, she exhorted, during the same ecstasy, all those present to em 
brace the naked suffering, showing to them how useful to attain perfection 
it was, and she remained eight whole hours in this ecstasy. As in 
October following the election of the new superioress of the monastery 
was to take place, the nuns had a desire to elect her, with a mind to 
obtain the dispensation from the age of which she was short. This 
intention became known to her, and immediately putting together all 
the reasons her humility could suggest to her, she presented them to the 
nuns, so that they might not calculate on her in any way. Her feeble 
health, above all, was a great pretext to dissuade the nuns from their 
project. Finally the matter was compromised by electing another nun 
as prioress and her as sub-prioress. She resigned herself to the voice of 
obedience, laying aside every repugnance of her modesty, and displaying 
at the same time all her zeal in discharging the duties of the office; so 
that, from the very beginning, she arranged some matters tending to the 
greater observance of the rules. But after the lapse of eight days, a 
fever which was continually wearing her out seemed to reach its worst 
degree, and rendered her so feeble that, being unable to stand, it was 
found necessary to bring her to the bed on which she was to end her 
mortal pilgrimage after thirty months of the most severe and cruel suf 
ferings. The torments with which God tried her for so long a time, 
to second her wish for a naked suffering, were partly in her body and 
partly in her soul. In her body, she was consumed by most burning 
fevers, with catarrh and cough, and often with hemorrhages. She felt 
very piercing headaches, so that the least noise, even the subdued talk of 
the nuns, caused her the most painful sensations. During the last two 
years of her life, she was troubled with so intense and constant a tooth 
ache, without intermission day or night, that it seemed as if, though 
innocent, she was enduring that gnashing of teeth of which the Gospel 
speaks as the symbol of the infernal" torments, together with the weeping 
to which she was forced, especially at the time of taking her meals. 
And this pain increased with such an acerbity that in a short time it ate 
up the stumps and roots of her teeth, so that many of them fell out of her 
mouth. Those which remained, on account of the excessive torment 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 279 

they caused her, had, nearly all, to be extracted by the dentist, and she was 
left almost toothless. By the violence of such a martyrdom, she was inad 
vertently drawn to utter some voice or word of lament which was 
followed immediately by a strong fear of having thereby offended God ; 
hence, with tears in her eyes, she soon turned to the sisters, saying to 
them that they should pray for her that she might endure those torments 
without offending His Divine Majesty. There was no part of her body 
which was not greatly tortured. Now she felt as if her breast had been 
cut with a razor] now as if her head had been struck with a hammer; 
now in this, now in that part of her body she suffered as if one member 
were being torn off from the other. One day .she said that it seemed to 
her as though she had been fried in a pan. Her body was reduced to 
such a condition that it was but skin, nerves, and bones. She was also 
so much flayed, shrunk, and hurt that, being unable to move by her 
self, she was carried by the nuns from one bed to another, presenting a 
spectacle so pitiful as to draw tears even from a stone. Some nuns 
would not even be present at it, as they could not endure such a sight. 
The physicians themselves were amazed, and used to say that they did 
not know how it was possible, naturally speaking, that a body so wasted, 
and tortured with so many and divers sufferings day and night, could 
keep alive so long and endure such severe pains. They often declared 
that she would not live the week out ; but, nevertheless, the weeks, the 
months, and the years were passing by, and she was still alive. This, it 
is necessary to believe, happened in virtue of the strength of divine 
power, because God wished to satisfy her desire of naked suffering; and, 
therefore, He kept her alive to fill her with suffering. Having lost all 
taste for material food, she gradually became insensible to spiritual 
things also, so that no respect or attention which was paid her gave her 
any comfort; nay, she was wont to say that whatever formerly gave her 
relief and consolation had now turned into pain and sorrow, and that 
her heart was capable of but grief and anguish. Sometimes during those 
sad days, she addressed these words to the Crucifix, though in peace 
and resignation: U O my Lord, if Thou givest not to me help and 
vigor, my body cannot endure so many pains." But the pure and complete 
desolation of spirit followed, and it led her to the height of sadness and 
anguish. The heavens seemed to her to have become of bronze, and her 
prayers seemed no longer to reach the ears of God, as if her voice were 
hushed by the divine clemency. The heavenly sweetnesses were no 
longer distilled on her, instead of which all was darkness and terror 
for her, so that she greatly feared for her eternal salvation. She 
recommended herself to the sisters with a most fervent and pitiful plead 
ing that they might obtain for her mercy from God. This suffering 
was also wished for by her, and yet, blaming her sins for it of which 
she desired to consider herself guilty at any rate, she often asked her 
spiritual father, with a feeling of painful apprehension: "Father, dost 
thou think I will be saved ? " And, on being one day asked by him 
the reason of this anxious interrogation, she answered : "Father, this is 
a very serious thing ; a creature like myself, having never done any good, 
to have to appear before God ! " Such was the opinion she entertained 
of herself, counting as nothing her many and most noble and virtuous 



280 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

actions, but only placing before her own eyes some faults inseparable 
from human weakness with which she reproached herself continually, . 
magnifying them into grievous sins. Hence she said that God would 
hasten to remove her from this life, lest He should have cause to send 
some great chastisement to the world on account of her iniquity. At 
other times she said : " Well do I know, O my Lord, that my sins are 
.so many and so great that they deserve other punishments than these 
infirmities and desolations! " In a word, she appeared before the nuns 
so oppressed and abandoned of God that they compared her to Christ on 
the cross when He said: U O my God, O my God, why hast Thou 
abandoned me?" It also-caused her great pain to find herself confined 
to bed, both because of the vivacity of her nature and the zeal which 
made her untiring in acting for the glory of God and the good of others. 
She was wont to say that it did not seem to her as if God could send her 
pain for which she had greater repugnance than for this. Yet, fully 
conformed to the Divine Will, not only could no one see acts of 
impatience in her, nor hear words of complaint, but often she could be 
detected raising her eyes to heaven and uttering fervid words of thanks 
giving to the Divine Goodness, because she had her life lengthened so 
that she might taste naked suffering ; and she ended with this generous 
offering of herself : U O Lord, if Thou art pleased I should stay in this 
bed suffering till the Day of Judgment, Thy Will be done." One of 
her disciples, admiring her in so great and tenacious suffering, for one 
affliction was scarcely over when another attacked her, told her: U O 
mother mistress, it is a great thing that the Lord should give thee 
always fresh occasions to suffer ! " To which Mary Magdalen answered 
that from her youth it had been her desire to suffer purely for God, and 
that she had always asked of Him this grace, and in a special manner 
in the act of receiving Holy Communion, and therefore she deemed 
it an immense favor of God, adding: u Sister, the practice of suffering 
is a thing so valuable and noble that the Word, being in thebosom of 
His Eternal Father, in the abundance of all the riches and delights of 
Paradise, because He was not adorned with the stole of suffering, came 
down to earth for this ornament ; and He was God, Who could not be 
deceived. I have not yet, during my life, deserved to have occasion to 
suffer, for I have always received good from God and all creatures." 
Here the disciple reminding her of some particular sufferings, and the 
five years of her painful trial, the Saint replied that all that had been 
nothing, and that she could not call that a time of naked suffering, 
because during it she had tasted so many and so great suavities of 
spirit, that all her bitterness was sweetened by them. u What I now 
ask of God is, that He grant that I experience naked suffering, unmixed 
with any pleasure; and by the confidence I feel in the Divine Goodness, 
I hope He will grant me this grace before I die." Another time a nun 
said to her : " Mother, I can bear no longer that God should make thee 
suffer so much." The good mother was troubled on seeing this want of 
conformity to the Divine Will, and she appeared to feel more pain for 
this fault than for her own disease. To correct that nun, she gave her 
this advice : " Sister, whenever thou art oppressed by tribulations, 
endeavor to be very watchful and see that thou dost not cut them off 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 2&I 

from their fount, which is the Will of God ; otherwise they will be to thee 
a heavy and unbearable weight " a maxim truly divine, which we should 
all keep indelibly engraved on our soul. The disease having progressed, 
and Mary Magdalen being asked by the confessor about the particulars of 
her sufferings, she answered : " Father, I want thee to know that there is 
not a spot in my body that is free from pain ; but I feel great peace and 
rest of heart in God s will." And on the father s adding that he hoped 
the Lord would console her yet before her death, she immediately pro 
tested: " This I do not ask, but I ask only patience and strength to bear 
these pains." Of truth she bore them heroically; for, at the very time 
the vehemence of the pain wetted her cheeks with tears, she endeavored 
to smile and appear cheerful to the sisters surrounding her. One day 
being left alone, as the nuns had gone to hear the sermon, this blessed 
mother in the midst of these excessive pains began to sing psalms, adding 
at the end of each those celestial words of St. Francis: " Such is the 
happiness I look for, that in every pain I rejoice more." A nun who 
happened to pass by and stop a while for something, heard her, without 
being noticed by Mary Magdalen, and was greatly amazed, both 
because of the sweetness and the strength of the voice of that emaciated 
singer. But what surprised the nuns more was the never-changing 
sweetness of her countenance, so that the angelic gracefulness and the 
divine peace which her conscience enjoyed, appearing on her counte 
nance even when her spiritual or bodily pains were at their height, if 
on one hand she inspired compassion, on the other she comforted and 
delighted the soul of anyone who beheld her. 

Besides patience, which she practiced with so much fortitude during 
this long and serious illness, she continued till the end of her life to give 
every possible proof of all the virtues we have already described in the 
course of this book. As to the desire for Holy Communion and of suffering 
for the love of God, she gave the highest and most wonderful evidences. 
At the beginning of her illness she had the courage to get up every morn 
ing to go to Communion with the rest of the nuns ; to do so, on account 
of her weakness, consumed a very long time for a short distance; and 
often she had to be supported on the arms of others. It also happened 
several times, that on account of the fever which assailed her at that 
hour, she suffered such strange fainting spells on the way.that it se emed 
as if she were about to breathe her last. Therefore the confessor, Rev. 
Francesco Benvenuti, seeing to what pains and dangers this mother was 
thus exposed, resolved to give her Holy Communion in bed every morn 
ing; and he did so. But even this did not diminish her sufferings, 
for in a few days her stomach was reduced to such weakness that it 
became necessary that she should be fed with light food every three 
hours. Hence, having to pass whole nights without taking anything in 
order to receive Holy Communion, she often felt like fainting, and yet 
she could not be prevailed upon to break her fast. To the sisters who, 
compassionating her, exhorted her sometimes to omit Holy Communion, 
she answered: "Sisters, if you think I should not receive Holy Com 
munion on account of my unworthiness, willingly will I abstain from 
it ; but if you are moved by compassion at seeing my suffering, know 
that if receiving would cost me my life, I will not abstain from Com- 



282 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

munion ; because, though I derive no delight from this Sacrament which 
I receive, still I feel thereby strengthened to suffer this disease with 
patience ; and when I am deprived of //, I feel that a great help is want 
ing to my soul and I lack strength to bear the illness as it ought 
to be borne. 

When the Rev. Vincenzo Puccini, who succeeded, as a confessor, 
the above-mentioned Benvenuti, went to give her Holy Communion, he 
found her so exhausted that she seemed to lack the strength to open her 
lips. Sometimes he was in doubt whether he should give her -Holy 
Communion or not, fearing that she might be unable to swallow the 
Sacred Host; but well did he afterwards perceive the effect of which she- 
spoke ; for hardly had she received the Most Holy Sacrament than 
she so evidently grew in vigor and strength that, the divine help and 
grace appearing on her countenance, she seemed to be entirely different 
from her former self. As long as she had sufficient strength to recite 
the Divine Office, she never omitted it; and when she was unable to say 
it, she had a sister to recite it daily to her till she died, though it caused 
her great suffering, for the voice of another, no matter how low, was 
to her a source of great pain, on account of the constant and intense 
headache from which she suffered. Yet she listened to it with great 
attention, and sometimes she repeated to herself some verse of it, and, at 
the end of the Office, with great humility she struck her breast, saying : 
u Peccavi, Domine, miserere mcz" u l have sinned, O Lord; have 
mercy on me." She added : * This is my part. " Though so grievously 
sick, she continued to lie for many months on the hard straw-bed with 
the woolen sheets and little tunic ; and she did not lie on the mattress 
or use linen tunic or sheets until she was compelled to do so by obedi 
ence. If it occurred to her that a certain kind of food or something else 
might please her, she deemed it a fault to say so or to ask for it ; and 
when a lady, who was much attached to her and the monastery, sent her 
some delicate and tasty viands, notwithstanding that they were the most 
suitable to her present need, she experienced much difficulty in taking 
them, as it seemed to her that they were not suitable food for poor Reli 
gious ; hence the confessor had to order her to eat of them. This she 
submissively did then and at other times, when the same lady repeated 
this kindness.- Neither did her many pains and afflictions diminish in 
any way the ardor of her charity for her neighbor. Whenever she saw 
or heard that anyone was oppressed by temptations and trials, as if she 
felt her own no longer, she gave herself up entirely to afford all possible 
relief to the afflicted sister; and, full of compassion, she thought that 
others afflictions were greater than her own. The nuns remarked that 
during so painful an illness, the most efficacious remedy to make her for 
get her own sorrows was this, viz., to relate to her the afflictions of others. 
If another sister was sick, Mary Magdalen tried to send her the superior 
food with which she herself was furnished. To this practice of charity 
the nuns were so accustomed that once, a lay-sister being sick, she felt 
a desire for I know not what food; but, without manifesting this to any 
one, she thought within herself that if the mother, Sister Mary Magda 
len, had any of it, she would certainly send her some ; and lo ! a sister 
came on behalf of the Saint, bringing her the food she wished for. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 283 

When unable to go to the bedside of the dying ones, as was her wont, 
Mary Magdalen caused herself to be carried there, to assist them person 
ally at the last moment ; and she used to say : u As the Bridegroom does 
not come to me, I will be near them when He conies for them." She also 
practiced zeal for the salvation of souls with great energy, especially in 
teaching, correcting, and enlightening those who had been left to her 
care, though she had resigned the office of sub-prioress. Likewise she 
never ceased making offerings of the Blood of Jesus, and praying to 
God for the conversion of sinners, for the suffering souls, for persons 
afflicted, and for all other needs that were recommended to her. 

A few days before her death, that her charity might be crowned by 
an irrefragable proof, God permitted that a person should offer her a 
grave and notable insult. It is not easy to recount how many tokens of 
love, affability, and gratitude she sincerely gave to her offender for this 
insult. To the sisters, who were greatly astonished at it, she said : 
" My sisters, I have done this to show my gratitude for this benefit which 
I have received (calling the insult a benefit) ; and I am glad I did not die 
before I had occasion to taste this pain." 

Thus did she give during this illness the most evident proofs of 
the faith, the hope, the obedience, the purity, the meekness, and every 
other virtue with which her soul was richly endowed. But this time 
was not to pass without her giving a more solemn proof of humility, 
which was a singular prerogative of her heart; nay, she gave several 
proofs of it, out of which I select the following, and from them it will 
be easy to guess the rest : On a certain occasion when the nuns were 
wont to go to the choir, and there, kneeling before the Blessed Sacra 
ment, ask one after another, publicly, forgiveness of God for their sins, 
our Saint wished also to be present. She had herself carried there on a 
litter, from which, when her turn came, she threw herself to the floor 
in the midst of the choir, and, falling on her knees, all trembling, with 
deep conviction and words of extreme humility, she asked forgiveness of 
God, begging that He would show her mercy at the hour of her death, 
as though she were the greatest sinner on earth. Then, turning to the 
nuns, she asked forgiveness of them for all the scandals and annoyances 
she might have given them, carrying her fault, and the contempt she 
drew on herself, to such an extent that she excited in the sisters the 
most touching feeling of tenderness in her behalf. 

Several times during the course of this illness the physicians had 
ordered that Extreme Unction should be administered to her, it seeming 
to them as if she had but a few more hours to live. Finally, on the 23d 
of May of the year 1607, the father confessor, having given her Com 
munion that same morning, as usual, for devotion s sake, and, seeing 
that she grew notably worse, resolved to anoint her. Magdalen, con 
senting with great peace and spiritual joy, prepared herself as follows: 
She begged the mother prioress to have all the sisters brought to the cell 
where she was lying ; and when they were gathered, in the presence of 
Rev. Father Puccini, she again begged pardon of all for her faults and 
bad example, using words indicative of excessive humility. She thanked 
all for having endured her in their community, protesting that she had 
been unworthy of that holy place ; and she said that by the merits of the 



384 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

good sisters who had departed this life (and who had received her among 
them), she hoped to obtain forgiveness for her sins. After this, she 
humbled herself in a particular manner to the mother, Sister Vangelista 
del Giocondo, thanking her for all the labors she had endured for her, and 
imploring of her forgiveness for all things in which she might have failed 
in following out her orders or wishes ; and, both to her and the confessor, 
she warmly repommended the monastery, promising that, if she would get 
to heaven, she would pray to God for them, that they might have light in 
order to guide well the religious family. She promised to beg of the 
Divine Goodness that He would in a special manner grant to Sister Van 
gelista as many years of life as were lived by the Beloved Disciple 
St. John. It so happened that this nun, being then about seventy-three 
years old, reached the age of ninety-two (an age approximative to that of 
said Evangelist, according to the common opinion), and died in the year 
1626, after having much benefited the monastery through her zeal, 
accompanied by the vivid example of her religious perfection. 

Moreover, Mary Magdalen left to the nuns these three salutary 
counsels : first, that they should be zealous in observing their Rule and 
Constitutions, being ready to expose themselves to suffer anything, even 
death, rather than to allow the least relaxation in the rigor of the observ 
ance; and that to maintain this, they should always choose superiors who 
had zeal for it ; secondly, that in all things, they should look for and love 
holy poverty and religious simplicity ; and she asked that if in these things 
she had caused them displeasure, by leading a singular life as to dress and 
food, they would forgive her, as she thought such had been the will of 
God ; thirdly, that they should love one another and continue united in 
charity, being all of one heart and will, as the love of one for the other 
must be such that each of them would rejoice more for the good of her 
companion than for her own, judging all to be instruments better suited 
than herself to honor God by their virtues. Having thus humbled 
herself, and given these counsels as a legacy of love and zeal, she re 
ceived Extreme Unction with remarkable devotion, answering by herself 
all the prayers ordained for it by the Church. In the meantime, the 
sisters, having been asked by her to do so in homage to the mysteries of 
our holy faith, recited the Creed of the Mass, the Preface of the Mass for 
Trinity Sunday, and the Symbol of St. Athanasius, whilst she listened, 
her eyes fixed on the Crucifix, which she had caused to be suspended in 
front of her bed, so that she seemed to be much moved and jubilant in the 
midst of the celestial glory. The fact is that she became ngtably invig 
orated throughout all her person, as soon as she received this Sacrament. 
Some days previous to this, the above-named confessor, Father Puccini, 
had decided to go, for an object of his own, to Mount Senario, 1 and he 
was to have started for it the following day ; but, not wishing to leave 
the mother in that critical condition, he had given up the thought of it, 
being most anxious to be present at her death. Mary Magdalen knew 

1 This is one of the most celebrated Santuarii of Italy, ten miles from Florence, it 
having been the theatre of the wonderful miracles wrought by the Seven Blessed Flor 
entines,, who, led by divine direction, retired to it in 1333, and formed there the cele 
brated Order of the Servants of Mary, and it is the pious belief that they received their 
black habit from the Blessed Virgin herself, in memory of her Dolors. 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 285 

this, and, as soon as she saw him, addressed to him these frank words: 
Father, I tell thee to go without fear ; and I beg of thee to recommend 
me to the prayers of those Religious, that the Lord may grant me the 
grace of salvation." On the father s answering that he could not feel 
reassured, she replied: "Go, without fear, as thou shalt find me alive 
upon thy return." After which, Rev. Father Puccini, being unable 
to hesitate any longer, went to the above-mentioned hermitage, where he 
remained three days ; and then, returning to Florence, found the Saint 
alive, but oppressed by such great and excruciating pains that it seemed 
as if the Lord kept her alive but to give her the merit of a sovereign suf 
fering. After receiving Extreme Unction, she lived twelve days in the 
most severe and constant torture, so that these days could well be com 
pared to twelve years of purgatory. As she very much feared lest she 
might fall into some act of impatience, she recommended herself with 
the most touching and affectionate expressions to God, the Blessed 
Virgin, the Saints and to the prayers of the sisters, who, whilst not 
failing to do for her what they could, hastened rather to confidently 
recommend themselves to her. Seeing that the departure of Mary 
Magdalen from this world was certain and near, each nun watched for 
the most opportune moment to approach her for the sake of taking a sad 
but inevitable leave, and also to lay before her all the needs and wishes of 
her heart, that she might see to them in heaven with her powerful inter 
cession. All day and night long, they were running to her ; one for 
this grace and another for that ; so that this servant of God in her little 
chamber seemed a great queen, who was about to leave and go to the 
kingdom of her Spouse, and was receiving many homages and petitions 
before starting. She promised all to help them better in heaven than 
she had already done or could do on earth, and said : "If, whilst with 
you, I would have laid down my life that each of you might become 
perfect, simply on account of the love Jesus bore to you, how much more 
shall I not exert myself for you, if God be merciful enough to admit me to 
heaven? n The nuns inconsolably shed, for her loss, the most sad and 
abundant tears ; and, now asking her pardon, now advice and instruction, 
gave vent without restraint to the anguish of their hearts. She, on the 
contrary, all serene, gave to all a benign answer, humbled herself to them, 
consoled them, gave to each counsels of salvation and religious perfection, 
and exhorted all to the love and zeal of the regular observance, and to 
the love of their neighbor. To the mother prioress, in particular, she 
spoke at length concerning the evangelical perfection and the rules 
which she wished should be added to their Constitutions. To the girls 
of the monastery still entrusted to her care, having called them to her 
self two days before she died, she left, as her testament, fraternal charity, 
taking as a rule the commandment of the Divine Master, Who wished it 
impressed upon the spirit of His disciples with this formula : " Love one 
another as I have loved you," viz., with equality and purity of affection. 
Though assured of the truth of her ecstasies and revelations, as is 
shown in her life, still, on account of her deep humility, she could never 
wholly free herself from the fear of having been deceived and deluded 
by the devil ; and during these latter days, with a most piercing anguish 
she asked the opinion of her confessor concerning them. The Rev. 



286 THK LIFE AND WORKS OF 

Father Puccini, starting from a generally safe point, thus answered her: 
" If thou hast been guided by obedience, be sure that there can have 
been no deception." She, being reassured, gave this answer: <k I do not 
remember having done anything without obedience ; but in all things I 
have permitted myself simply to be led by my superiors, and in all my 
doings I have had nothing in my mind except the presence of God." 
After she had received Extreme Unction, she allowed to her infirmity no 
other relief, though the physicians warmly exhorted her to do otherwise. 
"Christ on the Cross," she answered, "received no comfort." She also 
wanted to die on the naked cross of suffering ; and this was granted to 
her, not only in regard to the body, in which she was evidently so 
much afflicted, but also in regard to the soul. Three days before she 
departed this life, she said to Sister Maria Pacifica del Tovaglia, with 
complete peace and tranquillity of soul, that till that moment she had 
found herself desolate and without any taste of God ; and she ended her 
discourse by these words, which indicate to what degree of perfection 
her virtue had attained: " I am satisfied with everything in which God 
is pleased, and I thank Him, and again offer to Him every satisfaction 
and spiritual delight, provided only that I be saved." It was really a pity 
to see this soul, so favored of God with gifts and communications so 
wonderful, now abandoned and forsaken in the midst of great sorrows and 
without the least consolation. Where human nature trembles and 
recoils at the vanishing of those hopes which one never likes to give 
up, Mary Magdalen felt her soul open to joy, as she saw that her life was 
declining. She spoke of her death as we would of nuptials, a banquet, 
a treasure and the like, by which we are so strongly attracted. Having, 
in fact, reached that naked suffering so much wished and asked for, it 
seemed as if her heart, like an arrow, plunged of itself into the intoxica 
tion of exultation and delight, and her spirit rose so high towards the 
beatific end as 110 longer to feel anything of earth, body or life. 

Thus things were on the 24th of May, the Day of the Ascension, 
and last day but one of her life. On the morning of this day the father 
confessor wanted to give her Holy Communion as Viaticum; but she 
told him to give her Communion simply for devotion, as he had done 
every morning until then, because he would still be in time to give her 
Holy Viaticum the next day. He did so, and it happened as she said. She 
spent the day now speaking with those present about charity, God, and 
their neighbor, and now pressing and warmly kissing the Crucifix she 
held in her hands, and speaking to Him of those things which they 
alone knew. During the night, being troubled partly by lethargy and 
partly by restlessness, she caused the Passion to be read to her by the 
nuns, and the Penitential Psalms, the Litanies, the Symbol of St. 
Athanasius and other prayers to be recited, whilst she endeavored to 
follow them with the most constant and lively attention. At the 
nearing of dawn the light no longer struck her eyes with its wonted 
strength, neither was her will sufficient to lend the action to the tongue 
which she desired it to have ; so that she herself called for the Viaticum, 
begging her father confessor to give It to her before daylight. This 
was done at about four o clock, viz., at the time when the morning 
twilight announced to our hemisphere the appearance of the greater 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 287 

luminary, and the birds before stretching their wings to fly through vast 
regions, were giving to their Creator the wonted tribute of their praise. 
It cannot be told with what sentiments of tender and warm piety she 
received for the last time the Sacrament of the Body of Jesus Christ; 
feeling certain that she would soon see Him without any veil, in all 
His glory. Few people, I think, can know the joy a holy soul must feel 
at such a moment. Having passed some time in acts of love, homage, 
and burning gratitude to her Jesus in the Sacrament, she turned to the 
sisters to bid them the last adieu. She wanted to embrace them all, and 
again ask of all their pardon and benediction ; and, as they answered 
with tears and sighs, Mary Magdalen consoled them, promising to them 
that in heaven also she would love and remember them. She thanked 
them tenderly, for the love they had borne her, and not without some 
tears of charitable emotion on her cheeks ; all this was a most amaz 
ing compendium of affectionate demonstrations, which is impossible 
to be described or even imagined, except by those who took part in it. 
The nuns who gathered around her bed, however, if on one hand 
they felt as though their hearts had been snatched away at the imminent 
separation from this their dear sister, on the other hand experienced also 
a heavenly sweetness penetrating into their souls, on seeing her already 
safely approaching the haven with so much joy that she appeared not as 
one dying, but as a jubilant bride going forth to the nuptials of the Divine 
Bridegroom. The habits of the different virtues which were so well 
rooted in her, especially the virtues of faith, hope, and charity, which she 
practiced in such a lively and constant manner, and the perfect order 
there was in her most pure soul, lent her a security and a peace so firm 
that those present were thereby wonderfully attracted. Therefore the 
sisters mingled tears of sorrow with tears of joy, and never wearied of 
being near her, all looking at her with various but devout feelings. 
Mary Magdalen addressing her feeble voice to her father confessor, 
taking leave of him also, expressed herself most thankful to him, and 
begged of him in a particular manner his blessing ; and then she requested 
him to go and rest for five hours, and return to her to be present 
to assist her at her death. The father having withdrawn, and Mary 
Magdalen having attended to these social duties, a general torpor seized 
all her limbs, and her senses failed so much under the imperious law of 
nature, that on his return, after the five hours, a heavy, long, and deep 
breathing was the only sign that she was still alive. The confessor 
attended to the recommending of her soul, adding psalms and other 
prayers. All the nuns had already reached her bedside, thinking that 
from one moment to another she would expire ; but three hours passed 
in this condition, and the patient was still agonizing slowly; hence the 
time having arrived to say Mass and give Communion to the nuns, the 
confessor left for the sacristy. He had hardly got there and put on the 
sacred vestments, when he was hurriedly called to return, as the Saint 
.was dying. Rev. Father Puccini, inspired of God, sent this message by 
the sister-sacristan to the mother prioress: u Tell Sister Mary Magdalen 
that, as she has been obedient in life, so she must also be in death, and 
to wait until I have finished saying Mass and giving Communion to the 
nuns." In a loud voice the prioress repeated this order to Mary Magda- 



288 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

len, wlio was ready to yield up the gliost ; then she, as though awaken 
ing from a very deep sleep or lethargy, though she had been speechless 
for several hours, the time elapsing between respirations being sufficient to 
permit of the recitation of a Hail Mary, now her eyes became brilliant 
with a new light, and smiling, she loosened her tongue with these words : 
"Benedictus Dens" "God be blessed," and then asked for some jelly 
broth, by which being restored (more so by the divine virtue), she con 
tinued so till after Mass and Communion. The father having finished 
these, he returned immediately to her, and found her as when he had left 
her. Having called her by name, she answered him with a very grateful 
countenance; and on his adding words of hope and love of God, she 
appeared to be greatly pleased. All the nuns were already gathered 
around in a circle and began to sing hymns and divine praises, as she 
had, a few days before, requested them to do at that time. Only a short 
while elapsed when, from the livid color of her forehead, which was 
covered with drops of cold sweat, it appeared that she was at the point 
of death, and suffered greatly. The confessor, seeing that she no longer 
gave any sign of life, replaced in her hands the Crucifix, which on account 
of lack of strength she had been unable to hold ; and she pressed it as 
closely as she could with her hand, in token, as we may well believe, of 
her faith and love. She kept it in her hands, and after a little while, 
trying to invoke the name of Jesus, finally with a slight movement of 
her lips, in the midst of the melody of the divine praises she loved so 
well, mingled though they were then with loud sobs and abundant tears, 
calmly, as though she had fallen asleep, she gave up her soul to her 
Ivord. This happened between two and three o clock in the afternoon 
of May 25th, 1607, which was on a Friday. She was then forty-one 
years, two months and twenty-four days old, having lived in Religion 
twenty- four years three months and twenty-five days. 

Now, let not the reader be unwilling to fix his thoughts for a while 
upon the death-bed of Mary Magdalen upon that bed which must also 
be the end of each one of us, and where a voice superior to that of the 
earthly passions calls to the tribunal of the conscience the good and the 
evil and let him there address to himself these questions: i. Can I 
despise Mary Magdalen, and regard her as a fool, because of the mode 
of life she led? 2. Does such a death please me, and would I like a 
similar one for myself? 3. Does my mode of life, and that of most 
persons of our days, give hope of securing such a death f 





Miraculous multiplication of oil (page 299). 

288 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



289 




CHAPTER XL. 




FUNERAL OF MARY MAGDALEN AND A WONDERFUL OCCURRENCE 

AT IT. HER BURIAL AND THE MIRACULOUS 

INCORRUPTNESS OF HER BODY. 



|HK deatli of Sister Mary Magdalen, instead of giving the sad 
and bitter pain which is caused by the loss of those who are 
loved here on earth, immediately dried up the tears of the 
sisters, who were, instead, filled with so much joy and such 
a burning love for virtue that it seemed as if they had 
attended a celestial festivity, rather than the death of 
a human creature. This gave them such superhuman 
strength, working in the same manner and at the same 
time in the spirit of each, that it made them all proclaim, with an 
exultant and unanimous voice, that their sister was Blessed and a Saint. 
The flesh of Mary Magdalen, which, on account of such long suffering 
of penances and infirmities, was extremely pale and drawn, assumed so 
beautiful and white an appearance that it seemed as if a new life were 
commencing to circulate through her veins, and as if the glory of her 
soul were already shining through her body. Her countenance in par 
ticular presented an angelical splendor, inspired devotion and holiness, 
and because of this it was a joy and a great comfort to look at it. That 
sacred body immediately began to emit the most pleasing odor, which 
has never diminished, and forms to this day the wonder, the enthusiasm, 
and the delight of everyone who approaches it. 

The nuns having rendered to the body of Mary Magdalen the usual 
obsequies of Religion, and, having covered it with flowers in an elegant 
coffin, placed it in the chapter of the monastery at the foot of the grate 
looking into the church. There the Rev. Father Puccini delivered a 
fervent address to the nuns, in praise of this holy mother and the better 
to exhort them to imitate her example. The nuns spent the night around 
the sacred body, singing religious canticles. The following day, the 
26th of May, the body was carried into the church, where it remained 
the whole day. The words, "The Saint is dead!" immediately passed 
from lip to lip throughout the city, so that from all directions people 
were seen to hasten, saying : " Let us go to St. Fredian s ; let us go to 
Santa Maria degli Angelas ! " The crowd of people was so great that it 



290 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

was with extreme difficulty that the religious rites could be performed ; 
and afterwards, with the assistance of the military, the church being 
closed, it became necessary to reopen it soon again, as the impatient 
crowd threatened to break down the church doors. As the people came 
in, they gave vent to that devotion which, springing generally from the 
senses, partakes sometimes of the indiscreet and wild. If the armed 
guards had not kept them in order, they would have cut and torn to 
pieces the sacred body, in order that each might carry away a small par 
ticle. Several times were the flowers replaced over the body; as the 
people, being unable to do anything else, snatched them with enthu 
siastic eagerness and love. Finally, at sunset, it became possible to empty 
the church of the people and to close its doors. Then the body of Mary 
Magdalen was clothed in a silk habit similar in color and shape to that 
which she had worn during life, and, without employing any artificial 
means to preserve it, it was placed in a simple wooden case and was 
buried behind the main altar. 

During the brief interval after the services, during which the church 
was kept closed, an event occurred which is deserving of mention. A 
very few persons remained within ; among them was a certain Father 
Claudio Siripandi, a Jesuit, who, whilst enraptured by the superhuman 
beauty of the sacred body and fixedly looking at it, saw all at once that 
it moved the head and turned the face to the opposite side. Seeking 
the reason for it, he was unable to find any natural cause, as neither 
the pillow-cushion, nor the vestments, nor the bier had been touched 
in the least. It was a prodigy of the Divine Goodness, Who wished 
thereby that the virginal purity of Mary Magdalen should condemn 
the impurity and lasciviousness of a young man who, among the 
few others, was standing at the bier. Hence God moved the Jesuit 
to address the young man in these words : "See what this holy virgin 
has done; I think she did it on thy account." The young man, being 
already frightened and confused at the sight of so wonderful an event, 
answered with much compunction: "I think so, too;" and, having 
repented of his past transgressions, began a new life. 

The renown of the miracles which were being wrought through 
the intercession of Mary Magdalen, increased beyond measure the devo 
tion of the people towards her. For this reason, as well as because the 
place where her body had been buried was very damp, the water penetrat 
ing into it from dripping eaves and a well being but at two arms length 
from it, the Rev. Father Puccini decided to make the translation of the 
body. Having, therefore, obtained the faculty from the Most Rev. Arch 
bishop of Florence, on the 27th of May, 1608, just one year after her 
burial, he caused the body to be disinterred. When they opened the 
coffin, already covered with mold, they found that a piece of oil-cloth 
which had been placed over the body was so decayed that it fell into 
pieces; the vestments were for the greater part eaten away; but the 
body, which should have been the first to suffer alteration and decay, 
had only the face and feet blackened, and the extremity of the nose and 
lower lip reduced to ashes. The nuns brought it to the monastery, and, 
finding it as sound and pliable as if it had just died, full of joy, 
they dressed it in new silk vestments and placed it in another case, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



291 



until a special tomb was made for it. Bight days after this removal, the 
body of the Saint from below the knees began to distill a pleasant 
and sweet liquor, which, wetting the clothing like oil, was thus gathered 
by the nuns and distributed to the devout people, who found it very 
efficacious in satisfying their desires and needs. This liquor continued to 
now slowly on for twelve years, from 1608 to 1620, when it ceased, the 
body remaining in the same condition, preserving the same fragrance in 
all its parts, but in a more sensible and acute manner at the pit of the 
stomach. Ten physicians having minutely examined the body many 
times, on different occasions, both when the liquor was flowing and 
afterward, affirmed under oath in the formation of the processes both of 
inquiry and report, that the body of Mary Magdalen was integral and 
incorrupt, and did not show any symptom of decomposition ; also, that 
the incorruptibility, the flowing of liquor, and the constant odor were 
not and could not be in the natural nor in the human order, but were 
supernatural and miraculous. And this was approved by the Sacred 
Rota and the Congregation of Rites. 




292 



THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 




CHAPTER XLL 




MIRACLES TAKEN ORDINATELY FROM THE PROCESSES FORMED FOR 
THE BEATIFICATION OF MARY MAGDALEN. 



JMONG the many miracles wrought through the intercession 
of this holy mother after her death, and testified to in the 
processes for her Beatification, the following have been 
examined and approved by the Rota Romana and the Con 
gregation of Rites : 

Maria Rovai De Rossi, a Florentine gentlewoman, widow, 
having been troubled with high fever for sixteen months, 
so that, on account of her weakness, she could not move, 
and being without any hope of recovery, five days after the death of 
Mary Magdalen was visited by the Rev. Giorgio Ciari, curate of St. 
Simon s in Florence. He brought with him some flowers which had 
touched the body of the Saint and gave them to the patient. With faith 
and devotion she placed them on her stomach, and immediately fell 
asleep; on awakening, shortly after, she found herself wholly cured and 
at once left her bed, to the unspeakable amazement of the people of the 
house. Four years afterwards, in May, 1611, the same lady fell ill again, 
and continued to get worse for five months. At the end of that time, 
on the 2yth of October, all hopes of her cure being nearly lost, the above- 
mentioned Father Ciari paid her a visit. He had with him a small 
feather pillow which had been used by the Saint during her last illness. 
The sick lady placed it on her breast, and she immediately felt a 
strengthening heat throughout all her limbs, so that the fever left her, 
she got out of bed, called her daughter to sing the Te Deum, and, the 
following morning, went without assistance to the Church of Santa 
Maria degli Angeli. 

A daughter of the same lady (Rovai) was in the monastery of our 
Saint to become a nun. Now, it happened that the mother fell sick 
again of the same fever, which caused delay in the daughter s taking the 
religious habit. Two months having elapsed, the daughter sent word 
to her mother that she wished to receive the habit at all hazards, and the 
mother answered that in that case she should pray to the holy soul of 
Mary Magdalen to obtain her cure. The daughter having heard this, 
sent to her mother a little tunic in which the body of the Saint had 
been dressed shortly after her death. The same evening the patient put 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 293 

it on, and having recovered instantly, she complied with her daughter s 
wish, two days later assisting at the ceremony of her taking the nun s 
habit, and feeling everlasting gratitude to their miraculous benefactress. 

Maddalena of Pietro Rondoni, a girl of the Abbandonate of the 
Ceppo of Florence, for six years suffered from a fierce malady, during 
which the very smell of food nauseated her. She put on herself a little 
piece of the Saint s habit, making at the same time a vow to visit her 
Church, and there to confess and receive Holy Communion, and she was 
immediately freed from all sickness. 

Catherine of Antonio Tosi, a girl of the Abbandonate of St. 
Catherine in Florence, having been for twelve years continually troubled 
with excessive pains in the stomach, which had reduced her to extreme 
thinness and caused her to despair of recovering, put on herself a little 
bit of the habit of Mary Magdalen, at once fell asleep, and on awakening 
in less than half an hour she found herself well, and never more did 
she suffer from that illness. 

Andrea Bindi, a Florentine priest, curate of St. Frediano, having 
suffered for many years from a malignant disease in the leg, which 
threatened continually to get worse, determined to carry with other 
priests the body of the holy mother on the day of her burial, and while 
doing so, he felt notably better, and shortly afterwards was wholly cured. 

Antonio Valderama, a Spaniard living in Florence, being seriously 
sick with fever and pains in the legs, caused these to be bound up with 
some bandages made out of a towel which had been used during life by 
the Saint. Immediately the pains in the legs left him, and gradually he 
completely recovered his health. 

Bernardino Cerboni of Colle, a Florentine citizen, having for ten 
years suffered with gravel, which menaced his life, found himself cured 
and completely freed from the disease by simply putting on himself a 
small portion of the habit of the Saint. 

Antonio Mattei of L,ucca, a servant of Alessandro L,amberti, Ambas 
sador of the Republic of Lucca at the Court of Tuscany, having quar 
reled with a fellow- servant, was by him wounded in one arm, and more 
seriously in the side. The physicians, thinking that his intestines had 
been lacerated, and consequently that there was great danger of his death 
while dressing the wound, told him to make his confession at once. In 
the meantime the ambassador s wife mixed up, with the lint ordered for 
the wound, some lint taken from a sheet that had been used by the Saint, 
and, having applied it to the wound, in a few days the man was healed 
by a manifest prodigy. 

The same ambassador gave testimony in the processes, that having 
for several days suffered pain in one of his arms even unto spasms, on 
account of a small black tumor, he was instantly cured of it by his wife s 
having applied to it, unknown to him, some lint from the above-men 
tioned sheet. 

L,ucretia Cenami-Lamberti, mother of said ambassador, drinking of 
the water in which had been placed some powder from the flowers which 
had touched the body of the Saint, was delivered forever from an asthma 
that for several years had threatened to choke her. 

Alessandra, daughter of Captain Francesco Puccini, and wife of 



294 



AND WORKS 



Andrea Sapiti, was sick unto death with smallpox; and being given 
up by the physicians, had received Extreme Unction, and the priest was 
already reciting over her the prayers for the dying. A relation of hers 
placed around her neck a relic of St. Mary Magdalen ; and immediately 
the dying one grew better, and in a few days left her bed entirely 
cured. 

Stella, widow of Taddeo Corradi, seventy years old, having received 
the Holy Viaticum, on account of a very great pain in her side placed 
on the aching spot the little pillow which the Saint had kept on her 
stomach during her last illness ; and immediately the unbearable pain 
began to diminish, and having fallen asleep, shortly after she woke up 
entirely cured. 

Agostino, son of Francesco Cortellini, a boy two years old, was sick 
with a burning fever and in great danger of his life, and no effectual 
remedy could be applied to him. His mother had recourse to the inter 
cession of our Saint ; and having obtained from the nuns her veil, placed 
it on him, and the fever immediately left him, the little boy himself 
saying cheerfully: "Mamma, I am cured." 

Father Vincenzo Maccanti, a Theatine, being very sick with inter 
mittent fever in Modena, after spending fifteen days in the application 
of useless remedies, turned to the intercession of this Saint. At the 
hour when the fever was wont to attack him, he began to meditate on 
her glory. In doing so he fell asleep, and it seemed to him as if St. 
Mary Magdalen appeared to him in company with St. Nicolaus, Bishop, 
to whom he had a special devotion ; and he thought he heard the Saint 
saying to her companion: " Let us grant him the grace completely, " 
covering him at the same time with her mantle. Be that as it may, he 
woke up full of joy and contentment and wholly free from the fever, 
which never returned. 

Pietro Alii, a Roman gentleman dwelling in Florence, was so sick 
with fever and excessive pains that the physicians feared for his life; 
hence they said that he should receive the Holy Viaticum. The pastor 
having come to fix the hour, the sick man s wife begged him to 
apply to the patient the veil of St. Mary Magdalen, which she had pro 
cured. No sooner did the pastor apply this relic to the man, recom 
mending him to the Saint, than his pains ceased and the fever disap 
peared, to the great surprise of all, especially the physicians. 

Maria del Garbo de-Rossi, a Florentine gentlewoman, making a 
vow to this Saint, was immediately delivered from a very bad headache. 

The same lady, making another vow to this Saint, obtained the 
grace that the spasm immediately ceased, and the pine disease which 
tormented her very much in one of her fingers immediately departed. 

Antonia, daughter of Jacobo Giulianetti of Scarperia, a girl of the 
Abbandonate of the Ceppo, mentioned above, being by the violence of 
disease brought to the last extremity, and having already received 
Extreme Unction, survived over a month with attacks of the falling 
sickness so severe that, as soon as she attempted to raise her head, she was 
taken with it in such a horrible manner and for so long a time as almost to 
rend the rocks with pity. The prioress of the institution having placed 
on her a relic of St. Mary Magdalen, the patient began at the same time 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 

to feel better and able to sit up in bed, and the following day she was 
totally cured, and never more did she suffer from that disease. 

Alessandra, the widow of Lorenzo Mugnaj, prioress of the Abban- 
donate of St. Catherine, being at the point of death and about to receive 
Extreme Unction, one of her daughters made a vow to St. Mary Magda 
len, and at the same time placed on the patient a relic of the Saint. 
She immediately felt the effect of a wonderful cure. 

Giovanbattista Rossi, a noble Florentine, while suffering from 
palpitation of the heart with fatal symptoms, resolved to recite daily 
some prayers to our Saint, and to hang a silver votive offering at her 
sepulchre, and at once and forever his ailment disappeared. 

Lorenzo, son of Paolo del Rosso, a three-year-old boy, was affected 
by windy thorns, which had already bent one of his arms and a foot so 
that they had made seven openings or mouths on each side, and scaled 
the bone. After four or five years spent in applying useless remedies, 
it was concluded to proceed to the amputation of his foot; but his 
mother, the above-named Maria Rovai, placing her confidence (which 
several times she had experienced not to be in vain) in the intercession 
of the glorious soul of Mary Magdalen, applied to her son some of the 
flowers which had touched the Saint s body, and shortly afterwards the 
wounds closed, and the root of the sore disappeared. 

The same processes contain many other instances of miraculous 
cures, and particularly of women in severe travail being assisted by the 
relics and the invocations of this Saint. Many miraculous occurrences 
were related by the nuns, and by them registered in a separate book, in 
which they noted the corresponding votive offerings. When during the 
remissorial processes a visit was paid to the sacred body, these votive 
offerings were found crowning her sepulchre to the number of 626, viz., 
567 in silver and 59 in tablets and paper. 




296 



THE UFE AND WORKS OF 




CHAPTER XLIL 




HOW QUICKLY DEVOTION TO MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI SPREAD 

AMONG THE NATIONS, AND HOW URBAN VIII 

DECLARED HER BLESSED. 

ir 
ten ., 

N proportion to the multiplying of such wonders through the 
intercession of the triumphant Mary Magdalen, homage, 
gratitude, and confidence were drawing the peoples to her 
sepulchre. After the Florentines, those who most dis 
tinguished themselves on account of their particular devo 
tion were the Lucchesi, who flocked to the sepulchre in 
crowds to fulfill their ardent vows. Some in going to 
Santa Maria degli Angeli walked a long distance bare 
footed, the better to declare their devotion to the Saint. Few were the 
houses in Tuscany that did not possess a relic of her, or at least a rosary 
which had touched her body. The cast which was taken, and moulded 
in copper, shortly after her death could be seen everywhere in Tuscany, 
and even out of Italy. The nuns of her monastery, being greatly pleased 
with the fervor of different nations, began to solemnize her transit, in a 
particular form and manner, on the second anniversary, viz., in 1609. 
This ceremony increased wonderfully in solemnity even to the inter 
vention of the most serene princes ; and was adopted by other monas 
teries of the same Order, among which that of Brussels erected and 
dedicated an altar to the Saint De-Pazzi. Thus did the faithful show 
how deeply rooted in their hearts was that veneration, the sanction of 
which by Christ s Vicar was looked for with a strong and general 
desire. In the meantime, in. that same year, 1609, the Life of Mary 
Magdalen, printed in Florence, came to light for the first time, and the 
whole edition being taken very quickly, in 1611 a new edition was 
published, the ecstasies being added to it; a third edition was issued 
in 1620, which met with most ready sale. Later on another edition 
was printed, richer in form and information, at Pavia, which was after 
wards translated into English by Chevalier Tobia Mattei, and published 
in Flanders; and into Spanish by Father Marco di Guadalaxara, a bare 
footed Carmelite of Saragossa, and chronicler to the Spanish king. 

In 1 6 10, the first petition was sent to His Holiness Pius V, asking 
leave to form the process of the Life and Miracles of Mary Magdalen 
De-Pazzi. The nuns, the people, the magistrates, their most serene 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 297 

highnesses all, in fact, in Tuscany were unanimous in this desire. The 
Cardinal Duke Ferdinando Gonzaga acted as intercessor. His Holiness 
lent a benevolent ear to the pious request, and was not slow to second 
it, saying to His Eminence that the first informative process might be 
made by the Ordinary, and that he should, therefore, communicate with 
the Archbishop of Florence, telling him to attend to it immediately. 
The prelate, who was Alessandro Marzi- Medici, having received this 
commission, during the folio wing year, 1611, complied with the pontifical 
mandate, examining one hundred and eight witnesses in Florence. The 
year following, still another process was instituted in Lucca by the respec 
tive Ordinary examining thirty-three witnesses, on account of the won 
derful occurrences which happened in that city through the intercession 
of our Saint. Another was also compiled in Parma, concerning the 
graces there obtained. These three processes were sent to the Sacred 
Congregation of Rites in Rome, which entrusted their revision to 
Cardinal Orsino ; but he, going shortly after to^ Ravenna as Legate of 
the Sovereign Pontiff, the cause slept till 1624, i n which year the same 
cardinal, on the loth of February, reported affirmatively to the Congrega 
tion of Rites that the cause of the Beatification of Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi 
was worthy and deserving to be proceeded with. The Sacred Congre 
gation presented this report to His Holiness Urban VIII, who most 
willingly gave his assent provided, though, that all the conditions 
for Beatifications should be kept by rigorously following all the orders 
and ceremonies that the Church requires in these causes. Commission 
was therefore given by special Rescript to three Uditori di Rota, who were 
John Baptist Coccino, Dean ; Alfonso Manzanedo Quinnones, Patriarch 
of Jerusalem ; and Filippo Paravano, who sent the Remissorial to the 
Archbishop cf Florence; and two canons of the Metropolitan Church, 
viz., Andrea del Tovaglia, Chevalier of St. Stephen, and Alessandro 
Strozzi, who was afterwards Bishop of Samminiato. These three Uditori 
unitedly and quickly completed the process in a juridical form and sent 
it to Rome, where, being presented to the Judges of the Rota, it was by 
them opened and carefully discussed. They scrupulously pondered it, 
and the sanctity of the life and miracles of this mother, both those 
wrought during her lifetime and those after her death. They then sent 
new official letters to the Commissioners in Florence that they should 
again proceed to visit the body of Sister Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi with 
a greater number of physicians than formerly, the better to ascertain its 
incorruptibility and fragrance, and the liquor issuing from the same. 
The Commissioners made the new visit, and sent the process to 
Rome to the said Uditori, who, having opened and examined it, pro 
nounced the decision that our Servant of God deserved not only to be 
declared Blessed, but to be numbered among the canonized Saints. 
Monsignore Coccino wrote the Report, which, being subscribed by all 
three, was presented to the Pope. His Holiness gave it back to the 
Congregation of Rites by means of said Uditori, on the 28th of March, 
1626. Cardinal Pio was made relator of the cause, and Antonio Cerro, 
public prosecutor (devil s lawyer), representing the opposing party. 
There were three meetings held; in the first, the validity of the processes 
made at Florence was discussed and approved ; in the second, the sane- 



398 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

tity of the life ; and in the third, the miracles wrought during life and 
after death were likewise discussed and approved. This being done, 
the said Sacred Congregation denned that, if it pleased His Holiness, he 
could canonise Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi, and, in the meantime, declare 
her Blessed. Finally, Pope Urban VIII, in consideration of these reports 
and proofs, and relying on the assistance of the Holy Ghost, by a Brief 
signed May 8th, 1626, declared and distinguished Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi 
with the title and honor of Blessed, showing himself extremely willing 
and happy in performing this act. This Brief of Beatification being 
sent to Florence, an octave was solemnly kept in the Church of Santa 
Maria degli Angeli, the body of the newly Beatified being exposed 
to public view, whilst the people ran in surging crowds to render their 
tribute of devotion and gratitude to Mary Magdalen, and to supplicate 
her with renewed fervor to grant them her valuable assistance. 




ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 



299 




CHAPTER XLIIL 




MIRACLES REPORTED IN THE PROCESSES MADE FOR HER 
SOLEMN CANONIZATION. 



JN the 23d of May, it being the day previous to the pre- 
announced feast for the Beatification, the two lay-sisters, 
appointed for the purpose, wished to prepare the oil for 
sixty lamps placed around the sacred sepulchre, for the 
church lamps and for other purposes, and went to the room 
where the oil was kept. As one of the two approached to 
finish emptying a jar of thick oil which had been used to 
light the monastery lamps, she removed the cover and found 
it full almost to overflowing. At this sight, the lay-sister cried out in 
great amazement, which made her companion approach, and both of 
them, most sure as they were that the remnant of oil in the jar could not 
be over five or six flasks, were overcome by various feelings, and could 
not assign any reason but a miracle for the great abundance they found 
of it. The only place where the oil of the monastery was kept was in 
that room; the several other jars contained the same amount as before; 
nobody during those days had brought any oil ; so that a miracle only, 
and a miracle, on such an occasion, of their glorious and beloved mother, 
could have caused the increase. This being related to the nuns, 
they almost doubted its reality ; but God wished to manifest her power 
more and in such a manner that no one could any longer doubt either 
the real fact or the superhuman power from which it proceeded. It 
so happened, then, that with the exception of six or seven flasks which 
had been taken out the first day, during the days following, whilst many 
flasks were daily taken out, one could see to a certainty that the measure 
of the first day was not altered in the least. Only on the fifth day it 
began gradually and proportionately to decrease according to the quantity 
which was taken out. The father confessor examined the facts and the 
persons concerned, and deemed also that beyond a doubt there was a 
miracle in it. He gave orders that such oil should be religiously kept, 
and wishing to know how much of it had been taken out and how much 
actually remained, they found that sixteen flasks were yet filled up, and 
they counted fifty already taken out, making a total of sixty-six flasks. 
This proved the miracle to be true, as the capacity of the jar was but 
forty-five flasks. The Archbishop of Florence took great interest in this 



300 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

miracle. He had the two lay sisters and three other nuns examined 
under oath, and they unanimously, through a public notary, affirmed the 
truth of what has been related above. Afterwards the same Monsignore 
created a committee of conspicuous theologians to examine the whole 
matter, and they all asserted and proved with cogent reasoning that the 
above-described fact was a true miracle; in fact, one of the greatest 
miracles that God our L,ord works to the glory of His most holy name. 
It seems, then, that we are authorized to conclude that God wished to 
manifest by this means that He was pleased with the exaltation of Mary 
Magdalen by the Sovereign Pontiff declaring her Blessed, and with the 
honor rendered her by the faithful, especially on this occasion. 

In 1654, the same oil, prodigiously increased, served to increase 
other oil. The monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli being but scantily 
provided with oil, on account of the short crop of that year, the person 
who had charge of it brought an image of the Saint to the place where 
the oil was kept, and there offered prayer. She let fall a few drops 
of the miraculous oil into the other which was in a jar that did not 
hold over two and a half ordinary barrels. It so happened that, having 
taken out of that jar fourteen flasks of oil weekly for the use of the com 
munity and the church, no decrease could be noticed for several months, 
viz. , from August to December, when the needs of the monastery could 
be supplied with new oil. 

In the year 1660 all the wine that was in the cellar of the monas 
tery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, amounting to about two hundred 
barrels, changed color and taste, indicating that it was fast spoiling. 
The steward having tapped all the casks, almost fainted from grief, and 
said to the sisters: " Recommend yourselves to the Blessed Mary Mag 
dalen, as you well need it." Then the superioress and two other nuns 
took a little vessel of miraculous oil, and going into the wine-cellar, put 
three drops of it into each cask, repeating each time the invocation and 
the petition to the Saint that the wine might become good once more. 
Their prayers were heard ; for after the lapse of three days, the steward 
having again tapped the casks, found that the wine had resumed its 
original color and taste, so that it answered not only for the use of the 
community, but what was over and above found profitable sale, having 
regained its former sweet taste. 

In the year 1663, about the beginning of May, Sister Angela Maria 
Angelini was confined to her bed on account of a pain in the knee, 
which was of several years duration. It had become so bad as to 
render the knee stiff, and it was also deemed incurable. As the feast of 
the Saint was approaching, the patient manifested a desire to be carried 
to her sepulchre, to pray to her either for recovery or for patience in 
her sickness. In the meantime, one evening she caused the knee to be 
anointed with the miraculous oil, and the gratification of her wish was 
not long delayed. She was no sooner anointed than she began to 
improve, and in the space of twenty minutes saw the swelling disappear, 
and felt free to move the knee without the least pain. Then she 
arose from her bed, gave thanks, and would have gone without delay to 
the sepulchre of Mary Magdalen had she not been kept back by the 
thought that the Constitutions forbade her going through the monastery 




Sixty years after burial, the body of Mary Magdalen was found to 
be "incorrupt" (page 329). 

300 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 301 

at night. Therefore she went to bed again, and there a new miracle 
awaited her. Unable to sleep, she fell into doubt as to whether the 
fact of her recovery was the result of the mere natural virtue of the oil 
or of a superhuman virtue ; and, more and more yielding to the bad faith, 
she anointed herself again with common oil. To her punishment she 
was soon undeceived, as the swelling immediately returned, and so did 
the former pains and the paralysis. At which, knowing her guilt, she 
deeply grieved, passing the remainder of the night in the midst of the 
pains of her illness and the affliction of her spirit. The next morning, 
reviving her faith, she asked for some of the glint s oil, anointed her 
knee with it, and lo ! the miracle of a perfect cure was again wrought ; 
so that she freely left her bed, dressed herself, and went straight to 
the sepulchre of Mary Magdalen, there to express the sentiments of her 
devout and grateful heart. 

In the year 1643, Pietro Caravita, a royal councillor in Naples, 
being suddenly assailed by fever and pleurisy, accompanied by languor 
and loss of strength, was given up by the physicians. Father Alberto 
Colaccio, a Carmelite, at the instance of the wife, anointed with the oil 
of the Saint the spot where the patient felt the- most pain, at the 
same time invoking her aid. The sick man recovered immediately, and, 
getting out of his bed, went to supper with the rest of the family, as 
if nothing had happened. Grateful for the grace received, he after 
wards offered as a votive token, to Santa Maria della Vita, a Carmelite 
church, a silver lamp for the chapel of the Saint De-Pazzi. 

In the same year, 1643, Giovanni Salgrado, in Madrid, was given 
up by the physicians. Vincenzo Carlini, who had brought from Florence 
a small vessel containing the oil of the Saint, anointed him with some, 
at the same time invoking her intercession. The sick man immediately 
took some rest ; and, on awakening, found himself so much better that 
the physicians testified that it could only be in consequence of a miracle. 

In the year 1660, the wheat of the monastery deteriorated so, on 
account of numerous insects, that it was crumbling into dust. The 
sisters turned their trust and their prayers to their glorious mother, and 
going to the granary, touched all the bags with her image, and made 
upon them the sign of the cross with the miraculous oil. Great wonder ! 
The insects disappeared, the wheat cooled down at once, and it resumed 
its wonted perfection. 

In the year 1661, the sister-butler of said monastery anointed with 
the same wonderful oil a great number of stale eggs. They became 
sweet once more ; and, moreover, some of them having been given out 
for devotion s sake, God made use of them to work other wonders. 
This happened in Florence to Lady Maddalena Gondi and to Lady 
Francesca Dei, each of whom was cured of a long and serious malady 
by partaking of one of those eggs. 

Lady Maddalena Angela Gorini, of the monastery of the Murate, in 
Florence, after two years of great suffering, was reduced to almost total 
blindness by a disease of the eye called gotta-serena. She promised our 
Saint to fast on bread and water on the vigil of her feast, to have a Mass 
offered up at her sepulchre, and to send there a silver votive offering. 
With such a disposition she fell asleep, and on awakening half an hour 



302 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

afterwards, said: "I see; praised be God and the Blessed Mary Magda 
len. Call the prioress for me." Who, having come, applied to her the 
veil of the Saint, and Lady Gorini added that her eyesight became still 
clearer. One hour later, being perfectly cured, she went to hear Mass. 
The two attending physicians gave testimony of this miracle. 

In the year 1662, Domenico Federighi, being blessed with the veil 
of the Saint, whilst his wife was lamenting him as dead, recovered from 
a desperate illness. 

In the year 1648, Sister Mary Catherine Rinuccini, of the monas 
tery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, who was suffering from a malignant 
fever and inflammation of the lungs, received the last Sacraments, and, 
having lost her speech, was about to expire. The mother prioress 
placed upon her the little pillow of Maty Magdalen, and the patient, 
having fallen asleep, thought she saw the Saint appearing to her and 
blessing her on the side, near the heart, saying to her: "Arise ! thou art 
healed. My feast-day is near ; go and prepare my sepulchre." Waking 
up, she turned cheerfully to the sister-nurse, and said to her: "Sister, 
I am cured ; call in the mother prioress, that she may give me permis 
sion to leave my bed and dress myself." This happened the night 
previous to the 22d of May. The superioress ran to the sister s bedside 
as soon as she heard of this wonder; still, not unmindful of prudence, 
she would not permit her to arise until the day following, after the 
physicians acknowledged that her health had been miraculously restored. 

Maddalena Vittoria, daughter of Marco Frassinelli, went to bed one 
evening, in 1661, with perfect eyesight, and awoke the following morn 
ing stone blind. In vain did the medical skill resort to all known 
remedies. In the year 1663, the patient placed all her trust in our 
Saint, and had herself led every morning to hear Mass in her chapel. 
Being there on the feast-day of Mary Magdalen in 1664, whilst the 
panegyric was being delivered, a flower which had been placed on the 
sacred tomb w r as given to her. She took it devoutly, placed it on her 
eyes with faith, and, behold ! her eyesight recovered so that without the 
aid of guide or cane she freely returned to her home, and on the follow 
ing day came back to the church to attest her everlasting gratitude to 
the Saint who had restored her eyesight to her. 

By means of the oil of the lamp placed before the sepulchre of the 
Saint, Divine Goodness was pleased to make the merits of this, His holy 
Servant, well known. Maddalena Boddi, in the year 1659, was con 
tracted and paralyzed by an apoplectic stroke. She recovered the power 
of her limbs and perfect health by anointing herself with this oil. 

Costanza, daughter of Luca Misuri, in the year 1664, was given up 
for dead by the physicians, on account of fever, pains in the stomach, 
and dysentery. She was no sooner anointed with this oil than she was 
freed from all troubles. She did not fully acknowledge that the grace 
came from so celestial a source, and fifteen days afterwards she was 
attacked by most acute pains in the stomach and one shoulder, and 
nothing afforded her any relief. Again she was anointed with the above- 
mentioned oil, and immediately she felt all pains leaving her and an 
interior voice saying to her reproachfully: "Acknowledge that it was 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 303 

the Saint who obtained this grace for you." She asked pardon, and 
began to proclaim the miracle. 

Tomaso, son of Simon Chiari, and Ginevra, daughter of Jacopo 
Bertolozzi, in the year 1659, being assailed by fever which made them 
delirious, were no sooner anointed with the above oil than they felt well, 
and the following morning went to the church to render thanks to 
the Saint. 

By simply promising her something, or making a vow, or even only 
invoking her, miracles followed. Don Domenico Caravita, while driving 
a carriage in Naples, in 1644, fell upon his stomach on one of the whe^s, 
his right leg going under it, after the horses had forced the reins. Unable 
to speak, he recommended himself with his heart to the glorious De- 
Pazzi. No sooner did he invoke her than he saw her before him in the 
Carmelite habit, encouraging him and suggesting to him to draw back 
the arm around which the reins were twisted. This he did, and the 
horses immediately stopped, and he, raising himself on the wheel, jumped 
to the ground. He had but one shoe, his garments were all torn, but he 
felt only a little pain in the right arm and knee. His brothers, the 
coachman, and the friends who followed, when they saw him alive and 
uninjured, were very much amazed at the wonder, and, together with him, 
rendered due thanks to the Saint. He brought a memorial offering, in 
gratitude for it, to her chapel in the Church of Santa Maria della Vita. 

Gaspero Romer, a Flemish merchant residing in Naples, escaped a 
very serious shipwreck, in 1647, by confidently recommending himself to 
our Saint. 

In the year 1656, the same gentleman, being attacked by the pest, 
recovered at once from the fever, the carbuncle, and all consequences 
thereof, by simply applying to himself an image of the same Saint. 

Sister Maria Concordia Galletti, of the monastery of St. Clement in 
Florence, being ill with a catarrh, called by the physicians trama di 
gocciola, was confined without hope to her bed. She tried in vain all 
human remedies, and, on the morning of the twenty-first day of her 
malady, she invoked the help of the Saint. In the evening, having 
very quietly fallen asleep, she heard in her sleep a voice saying to her : 
" Arise and go to the choir, as thou art not at all sick." On awakening, 
she tried to do it, and, feeling strong, she dressed, went to the choir, 
where she remained for some time, returning fervent thanks to God and 
to her patroness, whose image was there. 

In the year 1634, Antonio Leoni, chancellor at Forli, was so troubled 
with fever and pains in the joints that the physicians had stopped pre 
scribing for him, deeming his malady incurable. A Carmelite monk, 
his confessor, seeing him so very sad, exhorted him to implore the help 
of Blessed Mary Magdalen, which was no sooner done by him than he 
felt himself to be without pain and perfectly cured. In token of his 
gratitude, he caused a portrait of the Saint to be painted and placed in 
a friend s chapel in the Church of the Carmine, until by his order and 
at his expense a special chapel (side altar) should be erected therein. 
This altar is an unspeakable consolation to the people of Forli, because 
of the graces received in the past and which are still being received at 
the present time. 



304 THE IJFE AND WORKS OF 

In the year 1655, Vincenzo Antonio Ricci, a peasant of Campi, in 
the Florentine territory, was troubled for three whole years by an abscess 
in the stomach, and was reduced to such a condition that he could 
neither stand nor lie down, besides being continually tormented by acute 
pains. His wife Margherita went to the monastery of Our Lady of 
Angels to visit her cousin, Sister Martha, whom she told of her hus 
band s illness, which was thought by the physicians to be incurable. 
The good lay-sister exhorted her to have devotion to and confidence in 
her Saint, and gave her a small piece of the Saint s habit. Margherita, 
as soon as she got home, applied it to her husband, who felt all pain 
immediately cease, saw the wound heal up, and within eight days was 
fully cured. He went to Florence to visit the sepulchre of the Saint, 
had a Mass offered there, and left to the sisters a statement of the miracle 
subscribed to by three witnesses. The Saint did more ; Margherita 
gave a Relic of the same Saint to her husband that he might always 
wear it. Shortly afterwards he lost it, and though he sought very 
diligently for it he could not find it. He was in great trouble because 
of his loss, but three weeks later, whilst in the field breakfasting with 
others, lo! his dog, with the Relic in his mouth, came swiftly and 
placed it directly at the feet of Antonio, who, kneeling, took it up from 
the ground and gave many thanks to the Saint, to whom he felt indebted 
for its recovery. 

In the year 1661, Margherita, a three-year-old daughter of Antonio 
Cocci, a laborer in the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli at Campi, 
was left alone in the house, and would have been killed by a bull which 
had escaped from its stable, if she had not been saved from the danger by 
an invisible hand. Those who, from afar, saw her under the feet of the 
bull gave her up as dead, and so reported her to her father. He ran to 
his little darling, and, finding her unharmed, asked her how it had hap 
pened. She gave him the following answer : u The Blessed One took me 
by the hand and told me to pass by here, and thus she saved me from 
the bulk" "How was she dressed?" resumed the father. "In black 
and white, with a black veil on her head," the child replied. "No," 
said the father to try her, "the veil was white." "No," replied the 
child, " it was black, like that which the Blessed One has up in my room 
where I say the Hail Mary" This occurrence was related by her several 
times without the least alteration, although she was very often con 
tradicted by those who listened to her, in order to try her. In the year 
1663, her mother took her to Florence, and, while they were hearing Mass 
at the chapel of the Saint, the latter manifested herself to the innocent 
child as she looked in the sacred tomb. The same child related to the 
nuns how their Blessed One was lying dressed in black and white, with 
a white veil on top of the black one, and on her head a silver crown 
covered with pearls. The sisters began to contradict her in order to 
ascertain the truth, but she persisted in a coherent and firm manner, thus 
proving beyond a doubt the truth of the grace received. Having left the 
monastery, the mother complained to her child, saying : "If thou hadst 
seen the Blessed One, why didst thou not tell me? I would have seen 
her, too." "Thou hadst big eyes," said the girl, "and I little ones; thou 
wert looking up there, and I was looking down. The Blessed One told 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 305 

me to be good, and I told her that I would; " and, in fact, she spent all 
her life in innocence. 

In February, 1668, Catherine Nelline Villani, being pursued and 
fiercely attacked by an insane son, with whom she was alone in the house, 
invoking the Saint to her aid, heard a voice clearly saying : "Stop ; let 
her alone!" She turned back in amazement, as she knew that there 
was nobody in the house besides her son and herself, when, behold ! she 
saw Mary Magdalen clothed in her habit, in the midst of a white cloud, 
and the infuriated son, with his hand raised, was also arrested by the 
miraculous vision. In the meantime, the mother reached a place of 
safety, and considered herself indebted to the Saint because she was not 
struck dead by the blow which was about to fall on her head. She 
likewise attributed to the Saint the speedy cure of four very serious and 
dangerous wounds inflicted upon her on the same occasion, and she had 
several Masses offered at her altar, and also caused a rich and beautiful 
silver votive offering to be appended to it. 




306 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 



v . . " :> > _ x.2 ^,.21:: :1 riiii,! 




CHAPTER XLIV. 

CHANGE OF MONASTERY AND CORRESPONDING DESCRIPTION. DIVERS RE 
PORTS OF THE FEASTS CELEBRATED IN HONOR OF HER CANONIZATION. 
AN ACCOUNT OF THE LAST TRANSLATION OF THE BODY OF THE 
SAINT AND OF THE MIRACLES WROUGHT DURING 
SUCH SOLEMNITIES. CONCLUSION. 



DOPTING the words of Marquis Ludovico Adimari, a learned 
Florentine writer of the last century, I hope to please the 
reader in giving a full account of the sacred and the 
popular feasts solemnized in Florence on the occasion of 
Blessed Mary Magdalen s being raised to the honor of a 
Saint ; adding, also, to it, the description of the church and 
monastery, and some particulars of the family De-Pazzi, all 
tending to increase the esteem of our glorious heroine. 
Urban VIII, who entertained a predilection for the monastery of 
Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence, both because of the remembrance 
of Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi by him declared Blessed, and in consideration 
for the surviving sisters, among whom there were three of the Barberini 
house one a sister and two others nieces of his in 1627 was pleased 
to give his special attention to the small space of their enclosure. 
In 1442, with some very limited means given by charity, a small build 
ing was erected in Borgo San Frediano, Florence, as a dwelling for 
the Carmelite nuns, under the title of Santa Maria degli Angeli, with the 
hope of being able to enlarge it afterwards through additional help from 
charitable people. These hopes, however, were never realized well 
enough to relieve the nuns from the narrow limits of their poor convent. 
The munificence of the above-named Pontiff came to their rescue, assign 
ing to them one of the most celebrated monasteries of the same city. 
Located in Borgo di Pinti, from 1256 to 1442 it was the dwelling-place 
of the so-called Convertite under the Rule of St. Benedict; and afterwards 
of the Cistercian monks, who, being very willing to comply with the 
wishes of His Holiness, exchanged their dwelling with said nuns. They 
received from the Pope, besides a rich abbey to be added to their patri 
mony, the large sum of thirty-five thousand scudi (or dollars) with which 
to enlarge and embellish the newly-exchanged building to suit their needs 
and convenience. This they did at various times, until finally in 1680, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 307 

when, after the plans of Cerruti and Antonio Ferri, they rebuilt the 
church, which in its beauty is still extant, under the title of St. Mary 
Magdalen the Penitent, and also completed the adjoining monastery. 1 

The nuns for their part, full of joy and gratitude for the pontifical 
liberality, which handed over to them so great a sum of money to supply 
their actual needs, moved to Borgo di Pinti in 1628, transferring to the 
new church and monastery the title of Santa Maria degli Angeli. They 
also took with them the very same tiles which covered the pavement of 
the room where Mary Magdalen lived and died ; which room has always 
been held in veneration till our own days, as a sacred Oratory. Many 
and truthful were the praises unanimously given to the most famous 
Urban for his tender and warm love of country and Religion, and also 
for his well-meant sympathy for his own people. Innocent X succeeded 
Urban in the pontificate ; Alexander VII succeeded Innocent, and Clement 
IX, Alexander; the last two of whom were Tuscans of noble lineage. 

In the meantime, the renown of the sanctity of Mary Magdalen and 
of the great wonders wrought by Almighty God through her intercession 
in behalf of her devout children, was spread more and more. Italy 
and Europe were filled with it, and voluntary contributions were col 
lected from the fathers of the Carmelite Order of every province, but, 
above all, from those of Florence, and many other benefactors, towards 
the expenses needed for the solemn canonization. Finally, the Sover 
eign Pontiff Clement IX to gratify the wish of the entire Christianity, 
and particularly that of the Most August L,eopoldo Ignazio, Roman 
emperor, and of Theresa d Austria, the most powerful queen of France, 
and of the Most Serene Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand II, who by 
means of their orators had presented repeated supplications to that 
effect was pleased to pronounce the last and final sentence, placing 
our virtuous maid on the roll of the Saints, together with Blessed Pietro 
d Alcantara, a Reformed Franciscan. This took place on the 2Oth of 
September, 1668; and on this date the first printed notices appeared in 
Rome, which were abundantly reprinted afterwards in Florence for 
distribution among notable persons. The public declaration of it, 
according to custom, was celebrated in the most spacious Vatican Basilica 
of St. Peter on the aoth of April, 1669, a memorable and most solemn 
day, which, that year, fell on Low Sunday, following the Resurrection 
of our most loving Redeemer. The news of this celebration reached 
Florence on the 4th of May, it being a Saturday morning, at dawn, and 
quickly spread among the citizens, whose countenances proved that the 
happiness was not less than the expectation. Some repeated the news 
with words of benediction and joy; some with festive fireworks and bon 
fires, which everywhere during whole nights lit up the streets ; and some 
by firing guns, which were answered by the glad pealing of the bells. 

1 Here the Cistercian monks remained till their suppression, which took place in 
1732. During the following y.ear the parish of St. Frediano was transferred to it from the 
piazza named after said Saint, in which it had existed since 1514. In 1807, it was made 
a collegiate church, under the title of San Frediano in Castello. The monastery became 
the first seminary of the Florentine Diocese ; and in 1848, on account of the desire for 
national independence, it fell into the hands of foreigners, who having expelled the 
seminarians, made it a hospital. But let us hope that it will, before long, be given back 
to its primitive object of ecclesiastical education. 



308 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

Altogether a great noise was made, which was continually and cheer 
fully echoed by the voices of the people, who shouted: "Viva the family 
De-Pazzi ! Viva our glorious Saint ! Viva our sweet hope ! Viva our 
most sweet patroness ! " These rejoicings were muqh greater in the 
streets surrounding the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the 
Murate, and St. Peter s, where some nuns of the De-Pazzi family lived, 
and in all other places where any member of this family dwelt. As all 
blessings and happiness are to be acknowledged from God, by Whose 
power and liberality alone they can come down to us, therefore that 
same Saturday morning the Mass of the Holy Ghost was celebrated in 
the metropolitan church, and a most solemn Te Deum was sung, all 
the magistrates attending, with a multitude of people every artisan 
having left his work, as if it were a regular holy-day. On the following 
Sunday, after Vespers, solemn services of thanksgiving to the Most 
High were held in the church of the Carmelite monks. In the mean 
time, the nuns of Santa Maria degli Angeli, who desired to show their 
public and private contentment by paying to their happy sister all the 
possible honor which was due to her innocence and sanctity, resolved to 
have an eight-days celebration in their church in honor of the Saint, 
exposing her body in the most magnificent style. 

The prioress then was Sister Maria Minima degli Strozzi, a woman 
who, on account of her many prerogatives, is deserving of special men 
tion. Born of a most noble family, the only daughter of a rich father, 
and consequently the sole heiress of a large patrimony, from her very child 
hood she preferred the virginal crown to everything else. Betaking her 
self away from all chances of a splendid marriage, she shut herself up in 
a monastery, where she lived long, a wonderful example of magnanimous 
self-contempt, frequent fasts, fervent prayers, constancy of the hand and 
heart in ceaselessly scourging herself. Here she finally died, in the 
constant practice of the most glorious virtues, leaving behind a very 
marked renown. 

This prioress promptly consented to the wish of the nuns, and 
having quickly gathered in the parlor some members of the De-Pazzi s 
family and other most noble knights, near relatives to other nuns (for in 
this monastery, though in its origin very poor, were already gathered 
nuns of well-known families), asked them to see to all that was required 
for the proposed festivity. Count Philip Bentivoglio, Philip Franceschi, 
rnd Luigi Pazzi were charged with the music, which was to be under 
the direction of that maestro whom they considered the ablest to 
solemnize an octave with a daily variation of music for Mass and Vespers. 
To Senator Marquis Carlo Gerini, Marquis Gabriello Riccardi, Senator 
Marco Martelli, and Count Pietro Strozzi, curators of the monastery, was 
assigned the task of decorating the church in the best manner possible, in 
order highly to praise the name of Saint Mary Magdalen a name deserv 
ing of singular and everlasting esteem, because of the splendor of the 
glorious images of her illustrious ancestors in the paternal home, the great 
candor of her innocence, the great merit of her virtues, the great multi 
plicity of her miracles, and because of the very high degree of never- 
fading, immortal glory she enjoys and ever shall enjoy in heaven. Lastly, 
the Very Rev. Philip Soldani, Archpriest of the Metropolitan Church of 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZt. 309 

Florence, and director of the above nuns, who was afterwards promoted 
to the bishopric of Fiesole, was given the commission to invite eight 
prelates to celebrate Pontifical Mass every morning, and the like number 
of sacred orators who, from the pulpit, were to satisfy the wish and 
devotion of the people by eloquent and able discourses in honor of 
Mary Magdalen. Senator Giovanni Rucellai and the Marquis Luca degli 
Albizzi were also called in to lend their assistance. This much having 
been settled by the nuns, the lords of the De-Pazzi family wished also to 
manifest the great joy they felt, as we shall see presently when pro 
ceeding to the description of the feast. The banner blessed by the Holy 
Father, and on which was the portrait of the Saint, did not arrive from 
Rome to initiate the festivities until the 3ist of May. It was received 
by the nuns with a devout melody of hymns and sacred songs, and was 
carried by night to the Church of the Carmine, whence, on Sunday, 
June ad, it was taken, and, with the honor of a public procession, carried 
to Pinti, everything having been prepared for its worthy reception. The 
church was already adorned in a wonderful manner with the richest 
ornaments and sacred articles. All this had opportunely been done at an 
early date, as the banner had been expected at Florence long before, and 
it was the common desire to include in this solemn octave the proper 
feast-day of the Saint, which falls on the 25th of May, or at least begin 
it on that day, but the circumstances which kept the banner in Rome 
prevented it. Now let us describe first the monastery, and then the 
Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in the true light of those happy days. 

THE EXTERIOR OF THE MONASTERY OF SANTA MARIA DEGU ANGEU. 

The monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli is situated in the street 
commonly called Pinti, almost at one extreme end of the city. It, 
looking north, has, therefore, the delightful hills of the renowned Fiesole 
in front, and its most ancient walls, running straight like the public 
road, end at and join the walls of two other monasteries also of women, 
the one of St. Sylvester and the other of Candeli, which are on its right 
and left. In front of it are beautiful mansions, which, proceeding in a 
parallel line towards the side of the city, are divided for a short space by 
Colonna Street, which leads to the square of the Annunziata, where it 
ends. Its beginning is just at Pinti and precisely where, from the walls 
of said Carmelite convent, hangs, magnificently carved in marble, the 
coat-of-arms of the Barberini, ornamented with the triple crown, in re 
membrance of the remarkable benefit received from the great Urban. 
The main door, or the great church door which one reaches by several 
steps, leads to a magnificent space supported by stone pillars. On the 
left is the famous Chapel of the Neri, which in its cupola contains 
Poccetti s masterpiece representing the abode of the Blessed. The anti- 
pendium of the altar of the same chapel is by Passignano. Returning to 
the first entrance, we proceed to an almost square court, the front of 
which forms an elegant vaulted lodge, with six stone columns of the 
Ionic order, three on one side and three on the other, in the midst of 
which an arc majestically arises on the architrave, which running 
over their capitals closes afterwards with much grace in the shape of a 



3IO THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

circle and gives entrance to the church by a door. This main door has two 
smaller ones 011 the sides, and corresponds on the outside to the big door 
on the street, and on the inside to the main altar, with equal elegance 
and proportion. 

On the occasion of the celebration, one could see the public street 
alongside the monastery covered for a considerable space with white 
tents, which extended from wall to wall and formed a most brilliant 
spectacle, on account of the great quantity of tinsel and festoons of 
fragrant myrtle flying from them, and, underneath, it was a beautiful sight 
to see the walls adorned with the finest silks and superb paintings 
of renowned authors representing the most notable events in the Holy 
Scriptures. 

Over the main entrance hung the coats-of-arms of the Rospigliosi (the 
then Roman Pontiff having been born of that family), the Most August 
Catholic Emperor, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the monastery, and the 
De-Pazzi family. The vestibule of the first entrance and the courtyard 
were adorned from bottom to top with splendid tapestries and paintings 
representing the most remarkable events in the life of Mary Magdalen, 
explained by a short and elegant inscription underneath. In the middle 
of the court an arch was erected, which was tastefully interwoven with 
colored serges placed on sharp points covered with damasks. These 
formed a resplendent avenue leading to the church, from the main door 
of which hung a large placard with a gilt cornice and fine carvings of 
lilies and roses. On it was written in Latin with cubital letters a short 
eulogium of the Saint, composed by the Canon Giambattista Borgherini, 
which for the information and satisfaction of all is translated here below. 

TRANSLATION OF THE EULOGIUM. 

" Let anyone who wishes to approach this most grand vision lay 
down here in the vestibule of the temple all worldly thoughts. Every 
thing in St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi is so great and sublime that 
earthly thought cannot reach it. Nothing in her is mortal. Not even 
her body, which, though dead, prophesied, and became incorruptible 
before it arose in the Lord s Day. All her counsels from her birth were 
always full of immortality. In the tenth year of her life, by her offering 
in advance of her age, she consecrated to God the flower of her virginity, 
of which gift the Virgin of Virgins from on high wanted to become the 
tutelar custodian. In her tender childhood, loathing the delights of the 
earth and impatient to seek the ways of virtue, leaving her kindred, 
she ascended the heights of Carmel, there to feed solely on celestial 
dew, in the hope of everlasting glory. In the salutary hatred of 

herself and in the appreciation of innocence, she was always wonderful. 

-To her soul, never conquered by any earthly affection, nothing was more 
agreeable than to feel angry with her own self, to fight against and 

"triumph over herself, subjugating herself by vigils, fatigues, scourges, and 
fasts. In the estimation of her superiors, of her subjects, and of her 
companions, she appeared powerful in all virtues, and highly adorned 
with them. By humility, good example, obedience, integrity of 
counsels, and wonderful art in commanding and obeying, she accom- 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 

panled all tokens and put in execution all manner of tireless charities. 
She had no wish, no delight, except Jesus. In abundance and in dis 
tress, in sweetness and in bitterness Christ was all to her, and she 
found all in Christ. By His charity internally wounded, one could see 
her languishing altogether, unless she would approach her Beloved and 
be upheld with flowers compassed with apples, and surrounded with 
the lilies of His graces. In the midst of these delights, girded with a 
cilicium, besprinkled with ashes, whitened by abstinences, she pleased 
the Son of the Most High, Who chose her as His Bride, giving her in 
token of the celestial betrothal the ring and the crown; He enriched her 
with the gift of the spirit of His power. Hence she knew how to chase 
the devils from bodies that were possessed and how to safely shelter the 
innocence that was in danger. Often was she by the Divine Spouse 
introduced into His chamber, where, opening the treasures of His 
knowledge, He taught her fully all that is above the understanding 
and knowledge of mortals. Therefore, conversing often in heaven, she 
knew not human literature ; but in the practice of speaking of God, full 
of divine wisdom and intellect, she manifested His hidden mysteries and 
brought to light glorious works of His which are neither seen nor under 
stood. She lived as if dead to the world, hidden with Christ in God. 
Finally, being taken up to heaven, she stole away with her the affections, 
the hearts, the homage, and the applause of all the people. Enter, 
devout soul. Prepare thine eyes for wonders, thy mind for sanctity. 
Exult, O Florence, in this thy day. Honor and invoke thy daughter over 
thee, because to-day the Sovereign Roman Pontiff made her name most 
great among all nations, and by the tongues of all the Church proclaims 
her praises." 

Two other cartoons of lesser dimensions appeared on the two side 
doors, the inscriptions for which were composed by the Canon Matteo 
Strozzi (a man of uncommon erudition), and recounted the virtues and 
glories of Mary Magdalen. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE INTERIOR OF THE CHURCH. 

Three doors, then, lead into the church, which the title of majestic 
rather than big would suit, though it cannot be called small. It has but 
one nave, with twelve chapels harmoniously distributed to the number of 
six on each side, one opposite the other. These are all equal in size and 
of elegant proportions. They stand back in the shape of a square and 
are covered by a solid vault, the entrance to them being by an arch skill 
fully carved with beautiful and various work in stone serene. The arch 
is supported by two pillars and a capital of composite order, which con 
tinues along the two sides to the south, where are three oblong windows, 
so well designed that each of them, resting upon the arch of a chapel, 
gives the necessary light to the whole church. At the end of this is the 
Chapel of St. Mary Magdalen, built there as the main altar and inspiring 
devotion all around, and, while adding to the sumptuous magnificence of 
the edifice, it satisfies, better than one can tell, the eye and the heart of 
the beholder. It is raised somewhat from the rest of the floor and stands 
many feet back. Spreading out with noble symmetry, it is enclosed by 



312 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

* 

a balustrade of Sicilian jasper, which joins the two pillars of the same 
material. Upon this an arch arises forming a magnificent entrance. 
The marble pavement is distributed and connected in a most pleasing 
manner. The sides are inlaid with precious and rare marbles, and the 
centre contains the majestic altar, the front of which, ending in a semi 
circle, represents Mary Magdalen kneeling at the feet of Our Lady and 
taking from her hands a white veil given to her as a protection and 
security to her purity. The decoration on it is also of Sicilan jasper, with 
two columns of the same stone, magnificently enriched with gilt-bronze 
bases and capitals. On them rest the architrave, the ornament, the 
cornice and the frontispiece, which in all their parts correspond to the 
beauty of the whole work. On the sides of the altar are two like 
columns, which embellish the wall and present a rich appearance 
because of two medallions hanging from their bases, which are adorned 
with beautiful casts of gilt-bronze, and appear to be supported by 
some small ones of white alabaster. The most wonderful of all, how 
ever, is the antipendium of the altar, also of gilt bronze, in which the 
elegance of the work, surpassing the value of the metal, equals only the 
diligence and the labor employed therein by the artist. Neither can we 
leave unpraised a bronze grate, oval in form, which is set in the wall 
behind the tabernacle, and corresponds to the interior choir of the nuns. 
On two sides of the chapel are also two tables, one opposite the other, 
ornamented with the same marble, and of the same shape as the main 
altar, except that these rest upon two doors of gilt bronze, with ebony 
frames, and are properly located there one for the Communion of the 
nuns, and the other for the giving of the religious habit to them. Each 
of these two tables is flanked by four other columns. Between these are 
placed four marble statues representing the. most remarkable virtues of 
Mary Magdalen, viz., Piety, Affability, Penance, and Religion. Affability 
with the lamb and the dove, and Religion with a veil, are worthy of par 
ticular attention, and the last one especially for the ingenious and light 
carving, the relief of which is noticed through the veil. Under them 
are seen some bas-reliefs in gilt bronze, representing the most memorable 
events in the life of our Saint. As a suitable finish for this most noble 
work in marble, an elegant architrave, with its ornament and cornice, 
runs all around the chapel. From the cornice in all the three fronts start 
three lunettes in the shape of a semicircle, which make three windows 
elegantly ornamented with cornice and foliage in gilt stucco, and 
their side corners are of arabesques and gold. At the point where these 
three lunettes end, a beautiful cornice in gilt stucco runs all around the 
building, and from its top begins to arise the cupola, which, round at 
first, assumes afterwards and closes in an oval shape. Around the sides 
of the cupola are eight other windows, equally distant, and rich in fine 
gilt ornaments. Finally, the cupola itself, all frescoed, represents 
the glory of Mary Magdalen, who, having gone up to heaven, is by the 
Blessed Virgin Mary introduced to her Divine Son. At the four corners 
are various and beautiful groups of little angels holding in their hands 
some scrolls inscribed with sayings from the Holy -Bible, the work of 
Pietro Dandini. These paintings among the many that came out of the 
hands of so famous an artist, are praised as the best. Worthy of all 




View of the Main Altar of Santa Maria degli Angeli at the time of 
Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi s Beatification (page 314). 

312 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 313 

praise are the three tables, the principal one of which is from the brush of 
Giro Ferri, and the other two from that of L,uca Giordano. The floor 
of the chapel, the cupola, and the skylight were erected according to 
the design and under the direction of Pier Francesco Silvani. 

Such was the church; and, though very magnificent and grand- 
looking in itself, nevertheless, on account of the many ornaments added 
to it on that festive occasion, it appeared majestic and gay beyond all 
description. The perfect conception of all things, and their well- 
understood disposition, attracted the eye to the wonderful sight and 
elicited praises for those valiant ones who, in embellishing it, had followed 
the best rules and the. most rare beauties of an unexceptionable architec 
ture. The chapels were all hung with silk draperies, divided into com 
partments by red and yellow strips, which greatly enhanced the loveli 
ness of the altars canvas. From around the arches in graceful festoons 
hung taffeta draperies, red and white, which, extending in separate parts 
from the summit of the cornice, formed a falling drop, -with just propor 
tions, towards the ground. At the fastenings of the same there were 
brackets adorned with gold cords, upon which rested very rich silver vases 
with silk flowers, looking quite natural. These were lilies and roses, 
to signify the Saint s great purity and her great love for God. The 
splendor and majesty of the altars, the steps of which were covered with 
silver candlesticks and silver vases full of silk roses and lilies similar to 
those outside of it, were fully in keeping with the grand decorations of 
the chapels. The antipendiums and the cushions were of white satin 
embroidered in red flowers, with gold galloons and fringes, and the two 
chapels near the main altar were conspicuous for richness of material and 
exquisiteness of workmanship. All the space on the walls intervening 
between one chapel and the other was adorned with richest hangings of 
crimson satin, on which were embroidered ingenious designs of arabesques 
and flowers. These arose from the bottoms of the arches for about two 
arms length, ending in an ornament laid over. This hanging ran 
around the whole church. Immediately above it was an architrave in 
imitation of marble, frescoed, which, seeming to be worked in the 
finest carving, matched very nicely the variety of the embroidery. In 
the space above were four large paintings on each side, between the 
windows, secured to the walls. Two paintings were also on each side of 
the main door, over which a stone had been permanently placed with an 
inscription in praise and remembrance of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, 
through whose good offices the benefit of the change of monastery had 
been obtained from his great uncle, the Pope. These paintings, which 
can be seen to this day, represent the greatest works of God in Mary 
Migdalen, both during her lifetime and after her death. Below them 
were hung ten gold cartoons with exquisite Latin inscriptions, which 
were afterwards permanently placed on the wall, and which explained the 
subject and the imagination of the painter. These inscriptions were the 
production of the sublime talent of Monsignore Opizzo Pallavicini, then 
Nuncio at Florence and afterwards Cardinal, who also wished to praise 
the Saint and show her by his pen the great devotion of his heart. The 
spaces which remained between the windows and the paintings were 
filled with six oval figures on each side, representing in chiaroscuro some 



314 THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 

of the many virtues which the actions of the Saint illustrated. (The 
engravings which adorn this book, designed from said pictures, exempt 
me from giving a detailed description of them.) Above the window- 
sills were painted some double brackets, enriched with the finest 
carving, which, seeming to be really fixed in the wall, appeared to 
carry on their bases the sky of the ceiling, adorned all around with a 
cornice and over-cornice and various other architectural ornaments, 
which, on account of the strong tints upon several of the decorations, 
make the beholder think them at a distance from their resting-place, in 
order the better to throw out the grand oval placed in the midst of the ceil 
ing. In this oval, with the most exquisite coloring, the brush of Jacopo 
Chiavistelli had beautifully represented the triumph of Mary Magdalen 
De-Pazzi in heaven. This work is indeed most deserving of the public 
praises which it received for the special work in the drapery, the posture, 
and the finishing of the numerous figures, and also for the design of those 
many groups of angels which could be seen in progressive distance, and 
can be seen to-day, for the ornament of the superior part of the church is 
the same one which the Cistercian monks had caused to be executed 
many years previous. 

The main altar, however, was more richly, elegantly, and majesti 
cally adorned, for on it the precious treasure the body of St. Mary Mag 
dalen De-Pazzi was to be exposed. On each side of its front arose two 
fluted columns, apparently of old green Roman marble, with bronze 
capitals, architrave, and cornice delicately adorned with gold cords, and 
with the centre ornament of gold arabesques, from the platform of which 
arose the arch which went all around it. At the corners of this arch were 
two fresco paintings, one a figure holding a lamb, with eyes cast down and 
in her countenance and attitude representing Humility ; and the other 
pressing to her bosom several charming little infants and holding 1 in the 
right hand a heart in flames arising towards heaven, representing Charity. 
In the spaces between the two columns were two niches adorned above 
with some inscriptions to the height of the capitals, and below with grace 
ful decorations. The two corner columns of the front were double. One 
of them turning towards the centre began on both sides a second order of 
architecture similar to the outside one, from which started a semicircular 
alcove divided into three spaces by two pilasters. Above all this, in 
order to cover the interior, arose a majestic canopy divided into five 
compartments, which by artistic connection joined in a circular form 
the arch of the chapel. Nothing was wanting to make this a work of 
sovereign beauty, as the author of this design, the Volterian, had thought 
of every possible way to adorn it, placing in the seven niches seven 
bronze-like statues, larger than the natural size, representing as many 
virtues, in the practice of which the Saint had indefatigably spent her 
life. Above the altar was a double order, behind which was a prolonged 
platform, where stood three silver-plated statues representing Chastity, 
Poverty, and Obedience on their knees, and with expressions of rev 
erence and amazement. They supported with their raised hands another 
great platform, also silver-plated and strewn with silk flowers, on which 
rested the venerated body, in a rich gilt case, and supported at its 
angles by four brackets, e^ch of them ending in a lion s paw. The sides of 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 315 

the case were very brilliant with precious jewels. It arose in the shape 
of a sepulchral Urn, and, ending in a cover of most elaborate carving, 
held the purest and most costly crystals, which allowed the whole of the 
holy Relic enclosed to be seen. In order that every part might cor 
respond with the whole in preparing such sumptuous ornaments as were 
befitting the sacred body, the cornice was adorned with silver vases 
filled with large branches of silk roses and silver lilies, which looked 
like natural ones. In the lock of this Urn was a label with gold fringes 
and carvings and the motto: u Quasi myrra electa dedi suavitatem 
odoris" "I yielded a sweet odor, like the best myrrh " (Ecclus. xxiv, 
20) ; and above it was the crowned coat-of-arms of the Carmelite Order, 
with the monogram below, containing St. Mary Magdalen s name, from 
which arose a superb canopy of silver gauze with gold flowers and fringes. 
This canopy opened at the sides, and, falling towards the ground, was 
slightly gathered at the extremities and held by some little angels, 
resting on the platform of the arch. The sole object of this was that 
the image of the Saint, raised in the. air under the canopy in the attitude 
of prayer, might appear more majestic and venerable. 

The workmanship vied with the richness and elaborateness of such an 
altar and the precious material of the antipendium. This was of gold 
embroidery, commonly called relieved, with beautifully worked flowers of 
the finest silk, on a silver field ; so that, though the material cost one thou 
sand dollars, the workmanship was by the experts valued at much more. 
Of this material were also the chasuble, the dalmatics, and all the other 
sacred vestments required for the clergy in the Solemn High Mass; 
with the only difference that these had the groundwork of silver cloth 
and cost more than two thousand five hundred ducats, including the 
tabernacle for the ciborium, which during those days was placed in the side 
chapel on the right. The cloth on the main altar glittered with gold 
arabesques. The alb and the surplice of the celebrant, with other minor 
cloths and sacred ornaments, the location of candlesticks and candles, 
everything bespoke splendor and magnificence. Before leaving this 
subject, a word of praise must be said for those nnns, who knew so well 
how to carry out the vastness of their project by the power of their 
minds and the skill of their hands, which executed several works 
truly wonderful. 

The church being magnificently adorned, on the Saturday previous 
to the Sunday of the celebration all the nuns gathered in the interior 
chapel of St. Mary Magdalen at sunset, and having venerated the sacred 
body, humbly placed it on their shoulders, and forming a procession, 
two by two, with lighted tapers in their hands, proceeded to a door 
which from the cloister led into the courtyard. This had been thrown 
open for the occasion, and there they knelt to receive the blessing of the 
prioress, and were met by four most noble ladies, viz. , the Marchioness 
Caterina Salviati and the L,adies Clarice Serlupi, lyUcrezia Macinghi, 
and Maria Ximenes. They started for the church with their faces 
covered by black veils, and gave up the inestimable treasure to four 
priests, that they might carry it to the place prepared for it. After 
praying a long while, they returned to the monastery. At this cere 
mony, renewed afterwards on the twelfth day, when bringing the body 



316 THE LIFE AND WORKS OK 

back, the director of the monastery, with cope, presided ; all being done 
with the permission of the Sovereign Pontiff, which had been obtained 
for the nuns by Monsignore Francesco De Neri, Archbishop of Florence, 
and afterwards a most worthy Cardinal. It was the dawn of the second 
day of June and one could already see the people, who, overflowing with 
joy, after going to and fro in the streets selected for the procession, 
which were strewn with flowers and covered with very rich cloths, 
began to pour in great crowds into the large church of the Carmelites. 
These nuns, having recited the canonical hours and assisted at Mass, sung 
with orchestral accompaniment, came out devoutly from the choir, and, 
kneeling before an altar where the standard had been placed, in a loud 
voice intoned the Litany of the Saints. On reaching the invocation of 
the Saint, before the versicle, " Omnes Sanctcz Virgines et Virtues" while 
singing it the second time, the solemn procession was begun. The six 
mace-bearers of the Supreme Magistrate, clothed in red velvet, silver 
maces in hand, went before on horses properly caparisoned, two by two, 
seeing with noble gravity that the passage-way should not be obstructed 
by the crowd. They were followed by the standard of the Metropolitan 
and that of the Abbey of Florence, which in public solemnities enjoys 
the right to accompany it, both hanging from glittering gilt staffs and 
made of taffeta of various colors, with a special design on each of its 
own device. Then came, preceded by their cross, the Capuchins of 
Morltughi and of the Conception, the Friars of St. John of God, the 
Minims of St. Francis of Paola and of St. Joseph, the Conventuals of 
the Holy Cross, the Minor Observants of the Holy Saviour and of All 
Saints, the Augustinians of the Holy Spirit, of St. Stephen, and of St. 
James tra Fossi, the Friars of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and of St. 
Mary Major, the Servites of the Most Holy Annunciation, the Domini 
cans of St. Maria Novella and of St. Mark. These were followed by 
the Congregations of the monks with their own respective standards, 
viz., the Regular Canons of St. James Major, the monks of Mount Olivet, 
the Celestines of St. Michael de Visdomini, the Cistercians of Borgo 
San Frediano, the Vallombrosians of the Holy Trinity and of St. Pan- 
cratius, the Camaldolenses of the Angels, and, lastly, the black Bene 
dictines of the Abbey. The great number of claustrals from the above- 
named Religious Houses, then in existence, were immediately followed 
by the numerous Priories of clerics and priests, vying with one another 
in neatness, gravity, and devotion. The Canons of St. Laurence, and 
especially those of the Metropolitan Church, distinguished themselves for 
the grandeur of their habit and for having in their ranks men of high and 
widespread reputation for birth, knowledge, or virtue. To the Church 
of the Carmine all the male members of the De-Pazzi family had also 
come to assist at so great and, for them, so honorable a demonstration 
of the universal joy ; and they occupied a special and convenient place 
immediately after the clergy, having gone to it two by two with lighted 
torches in their hands. Among them were the following, according to 
the order in which they came: Clemente and Francesco, of the family 
of the Commendatore ; Captain Cosimo, the Commendatore, and Captain 
Pazzino, of Francesco; Pierantonio and the Canon Renato, of Andrea ; 
the Knight Alemanno, of Chevalier and Captain Girolamo, who, as the 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 317 

descendant of a brother of St. Mary Magdalen, though very young, was 
given, by common consent of the others, who were older, the honor 
of precedence. The chorus of the singers, placed between two bands of 
trumpeters, came next; and the trumpeters, with their festival sounds, 
filled all hearts with singular sweetness. After this followed the stand 
ard on which was the image of the Saint, and it was carried by the 
Provincial of the Carmelites of Tuscany, surrounded by other fathers 
of note, who were also to carry it in turn. Its four tassels were held 
by four little boys of the De-Pazzi family, viz., Agnolo, Antonio, Gu- 
glielmo, and Filippo, all children of the Commendatore and Captain 
Alessandro. They wore pages suits, with stockings and pants of silver 
cloth, richly trimmed with gold, cloaks of black silk lined with silver 
cloth and with gold trimming, and appeared in every way worthy of the 
honorable office for which the nobility of their blood had destined them. 
The standard was followed by the Magistrate of the Councillors, who 
was supreme in the happy Republic of Florence, and all the Senate, with 
the other eight Magistrates of the Palace so-called. It is not easy to 
imagine how much grandeur was lent to the procession by the splendor 
of the many knights who accompanied it, among whom, like the light 
of a most resplendent sun, shone the majesty of the Senate, both in the 
venerable and yet florid countenances of the Senators, in the beauty of 
their mantles and their clothes of damask dyed in the finest purple. 
Thus the procession, going through St. Monica Street, St. Spirito Square, 
and from St. Felix Street to May Street, crossed Holy Trinity Bridge, 
and, arriving at the square of the Duomo and to the street of the Servites 
at the square of the St. Annunziata, and then, leaving behind the Arc of 
Innocents, reached, with great pomp, by Laura and Colonna Streets, 
the monastery of St. Maria degli Angeli. The Most Serene Grand Duke 
Ferdinand II, and the Prince Cardinal Leopoldo, his brother, coming out 
of the Bentivoglio Palace near by, took their position before the Senate 
to follow the procession for the short remaining distance. As soon as 
the standard reached the church door, the bearer halted, and then the 
Apostolic Nunzio, dressed in pontificals, came forward, and, with the 
usual bows, incensed it three times, and, bringing it into the church, 
intoned the Te Deum. He was followed by eight choruses of musicians 
placed on two terraces. The harmony of the sweet singing, joined to 
the incomparable beauty of the decorations and the dazzling splendor of 
the lights, made one imagine that he was at that instant carried up to 
paradise. In the meantime, their Most Serene Highnesses, having offered 
prayer, ascended the extraordinarily splendid throne, where sat alone the 
Princess of Tuscany, Margherita Luisa di Borbone, for Cosimo III, the 
reigning prince, was far away, traveling through Europe. The Grand 
Duke Ferdinand wished the four above-mentioned De-Pazzi boys to be 
seated on the steps of his throne, thus to honor in them the merit of so 
illustrious a family. The Grand Duchess Victoria, being in poor health, 
assisted from a small tribune. 

The Te Deum being over, the chanters sang " Or a pro nobis, Sancta 
Maria Magdalena" and the responses to it; after which, Monsignor 
Nunzio recited the Oremus proper of the Saint, whilst the standard was 
raised and safely placed against the wall on one side of the church. 



318 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

Then the Senate and the Magistrates took their seats, and the Nuuzio 
having put on the pontifical vestments for the Mass at the faldistorium, 
it was sung by the finest musicians. When Mass was over, as the 
panegyrist could not perform his task that morning on account of the 
length of the ceremonies, their Highnesses left immediately, waited on as 
far as their carriage by the Senate, the Magistrates, and the Cavaliers, 
who also returned to their homes, equally overflowing with joy, wonder, 
and tenderness. But this did not seem in the least to diminish the 
crowd of people, which was so great for the capacity of the church, that, 
not only on the first but during the whole of the eight days, the halber 
diers found it very difficult, even in the courtyard, to open a passage-way 
for the prelates, the priests, and other distinguished persons, or those 
needed for the services. It is impossible to describe the enthusiasm of 
the multitudes craving to go to the feet of the sacred remains of Mary 
Magdalen, in order to manifest to her the most heartfelt tokens of their 
intense devotion. Many also availed themselves of the night, watching 
and praying for whole hours before the sacred Relics, in order to give 
vent to their burning piety. L,ike the Mass in the morning, so, also, 
with vestments similar in richness and workmanship, Vespers were sung 
by the same eight choirs of musicians. When Vespers, which were 
sung at sunset, were over, the festivities of the first day ended. In the 
evening, there was a repetition of the bonfires in many streets of the city, 
and there were fireworks and girandolas at Palazzo Vecchio to attract 
universal attention to the joyous exhibitions prepared in honor of the 
Saint by the Cavaliers of her family. These were conducted in the 
manner which I am about to relate, in the belief of pleasing my readers, 
renewing the memory of things which have a strict relation to some 
customs of our days, and which will the better show the glory of St. 
Mary Magdalen and the devout tenderness of the Capital of Tuscany 
towards this, her most loving, benefactress. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FIREWORKS IN THE EVENING. 

The gentlemen of the De-Pazzi family wished to express in com 
mon, by some public demonstration, what and how great was their 
particular joy because of the canonization of Mary Magdalen, a most 
resplendent light and a special pride to their lineage. They concluded 
to do it at the same time which was appointed by the nuns of Santa Maria 
degli Angeli for the solemn celebration, by exhibiting, during each of the 
first three nights, a grand frame of fireworks; which was magnificently 
carried out in the following order and arrangement. After several discus - 
sions on the choice of locality, the Holy Cross Square was selected as the 
most suitable, both because of its prominent position and because that 
church contains sumptuous tombs and chapels of the De-Pazzi family, 
among which chapels there was one deservedly held in very high esteem 
in the cloister of the Friars for the use of their chapter. This work was 
not less elegant because of its ornaments than sublime and rare because 
of having been designed by the never-sufficiently-praised Filippo Bru- 
nelleschi, to whom Florence owes whatever great and majestic in archi 
tecture it possesses. The old practice of holding in the above church the 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 319 

religious services of this family was also a reason for selecting the 
square for the object aforesaid. The place then being fixed upon, and 
having determined what frames were needed, and what, by ingenious 
allusions, they were to represent, their construction was begun and soon 
finished, thanks to the skill and energy of a valiant architect, Virgin! > 
Zaballi, assisted by the Signor Luigi De-Pazzi, who superintended 
it in behalf of all the family. As a basis of the frame, they made 
use of the triumphal car which, being destined for the ceremony of 
the blessing of the fire on Holy Saturday, refreshes every year the 
memory of the ancient valor of Pazzo De-Pazzi at the taking of Jerusa 
lem. This knight, at the time of the first Crusade, went over to the 
Holy Land, leading twenty-five hundred Florentines. He was the first 
to scale the walls of Jerusalem and hoist the larger flag of his band. At 
his return, he carried three pieces of stone from the Holy Sepulchre, and 
some of his family, followed by an immense crowd of people, went forth to 
meet him, and made him ascend a triumphal car adorned with precious 
ornaments and paintings, in which the holy wars, and especially the 
scaling of Jerusalem, were represented. He entered the city thus, as in 
triumph, amidst universal acclamations. The memory or symbol of this 
occurrence was not allowed to perish, but was kept alive in the above- 
mentioned car, which the De-Pazzi family sends out every year on Holy 
Saturday, loaded with fireworks, which are lit up in token of joy at the 
intoning of the Gloria in excelsis Deo in the Metropolitan Church, 
whilst all the bells of the city are ringing. From those stones of the 
Holy Sepulchre, which at first the De-Pazzi family kept in their palace 
and afterwards deposited in the Church of the Holy Apostles, is extracted 
the spark of the sacred fire which is carried in procession by the Prior 
of this church to the Duomo, to light all the extinguished lamps and 
candles, according to the Roman Catholic rite. It was deemed a very 
proper thing that, as that car was used to revive the memory of the 
heroic action of the ancestor, so it should be called into service to 
immortalize the glories and the name of the descendant who forms the 
greatest honor of all her illustrious family. 

As each of the frames, proceeding by degrees, was to represent the 
three states of the Saint, viz., in the world, in Religion, and in heaven, 
therefore, beginning with the first, the secular state was represented in 
the square on Sunday evening. The necessary frame was led thereto 
by six trumpeters on horseback in rich livery, with the very ancient 
De Pazzi coat-of-arms of six half-moons set up in inverted order, and 
the dolphins and crosses which they use at present as a rioble gift 
granted by Goffredo di Buglione to the above-mentioned Pazzo De-Pazzi 
at the conquest of Jerusalem. Over the convent door was placed in 
public view a very large Latin inscription from the learned pen of 
Andrea Cavalcanti, a most noble Florentine knight, which set forth the 
reason for the fireworks, the joy, and the piety of the authors, and the 
opportune selection of the site. The builder of the frame had repre 
sented in it an old fortress of rustic order, with a tower in the middle about 
fifty feet high, surrounded by four well-designed little forts which at all 
four corners had little turrets, the whole measuring in circumference about 
one hundred feet. Above and below hung from each tower a large painting 



320 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

representing some fact in the life of the Saint and some family events, 
and in the midst was placed a beautiful scroll, declaring in eight most 
elegant verses the events and the relation between them. In oval spaces 
over the big tower some fact or virtue of the Saint corresponding to the 
subject of the painting was represented in bas-relief; and at the base in 
two shields surrounded by trophies were painted two undertakings, or 
emblems, symbolizing the Saint, and explained in verses from the pens 
of the most illustrious lights of Tuscany in epic and lyric poetry 
Dante and Petrarca. These verses were properly selected fry the Abbe 
L,uigi Strozzi, envoy of the Christian king to the Court of Tuscany, later 
Archdeacon of the Florentine metropolitan church, and by the Chevalier 
Prior Luigi Ricasoli-Rucellai of the Order of St. Stephen. On the first 
facade in the painting above was represented the birth of Catherine 
(baptismal name of the Saint); and in the painting below, the origin 
of the De-Pazzi family in Florence, to which place they came to live 
from Fiesole. Such is the tradition of its origin, principally deduced 
from the half-moons of its old coat-of-arms, which allude to the Fiesole 
coat-of-arms, though some writers say, and not without reason, that this 
is too weak a proof. However, this amounts to little, and it would be 
useless to inquire further into it, as no fact exists which can lead us to 
the naked and simple truth. The Fiesolans firmly holding in their 
minds and greatly loving in their hearts this opinion, wished also to 
distinctly applaud the canonization of Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi, by 
covering the tops of their hills with bonfires during the same three 
evenings, when it was solemnized in Florence. The verses of the above- 
mentioned inscription were as follows : 

1 If a plant, formerly the honor of the neighboring hill, 
Came down to adorn Florence, 

From the nuptial graft of Buondelmonti and Pazzi 
A more beautiful fower springs forth : 
A flower which, exhaling a sacred fragrance, 
Succeeds in pleasing God Himself. 
Hence Arno bows (rather than to the root] 
To Catherine, the immortal offshoot." 

The picture representing a quality in relation to the historical 
subject, was Nobility. A more appropriate one could not be found : and 
the two symbols were also most appropriate. The first of these was a 
cedar a tree, because of its nature, incorruptible which, growing in 
elevated places, sends forth its top to sublime heights. The motto 
was : 

" Let not the most esteemed be compared to her." 

The second was an oak, from the branches of which military 
trophies were wont to hang, and the motto : 

" Proud of their virtue and of my booty." 

On another fagade appeared the Saint, still a little girl, when at 
the age of ten, after having received her First Communion, she made a 
private vow of virginity and was accepted as His Spouse by the Divine 
Word, with the token of the ring, which, then invisible and unknown, 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 331 

became known and was seen afterwards in one of her ecstasies. In the 
corresponding family event was represented the illustrious parentage of 
the house of the Princess of Tuscany, when Guglielmo De-Pazzi received 
as wife Bianca, the sister of Lorenzo De Medici (called because of his 
munificence the Magnified), and consequently aunt to Leo X, and great- 
aunt to L/orenzo II, Duke of Urbino, who was the father of Catherine, 
the Queen of France. The verses were : 

" Let Guglielmo boast the royal bed of a noble maid, 
And all the most beautiful ornaments ; 
Let him display before beautiful Tuscany, 
For so great a parentage, his great vaunts. 
But a gold ring to His humble Servant 
Handed in token of love the King of Kings. . . . 
With her tender hand she takes it in silence 
As a pledge of eternal glory and true peace" 

The gift or virtue was Virginity. Of the two tinder takings, one was 
the perpetual fire, consecrated by the old Romans to the goddess Vesta, 
which, as it could not be kindled by an earthly spark, had to be drawn 
by the sun s rays and guarded forever only by virgins, among the choicest 
for purity of life and nobility of birth ; and the motto was : 

" This flame could not have any other source" 

The other undertaking was the emerald, regarded as the symbol of 
virginity because it never loses the purity of its color, and the motto 
was: 

"// preserves the green hue" 

On the third facade was represented the Saint courageously speaking 
to her parents, persisting in her resolution to become a nun, and, by 
the efficacy of her arguments, mollifying the hardness of their hearts. 
The family event represented the embassy of Cosimo De-Pazzi, Arch 
bishop of Florence, to the King of France, Charles VIII, in whose 
presence he, boldly speaking, persuades the king to give back to the 
Florentine Republic the city of Pisa, which he was keeping against 
every right and with offense to his royal troth. The scroll contained 
the following verses : 

"Cosimo arms his speech with intrepid vigor 
Whilst addressing the great monarch ; 
And he tries, to the great amazement of all, 
To again subject to his country the wonted gifts ofAlphea; 
But Catherine asks, from the paternal love, 
And obtains, by insistence, a virginal mantle; 
A mantle which, deemed lowly on earth, Heaven appreciates 
Above every pomp of royal splendor. 

The virtue represented was Intrepidity and the two undertakings 
corresponding to it were: First, a swan, which, though by nature most 
meek, if provoked sometimes by the eagle, courageously goes forward to 
meet her. The motto was : 

" That I gave so much courage to my heart" 



322 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

Secondly, a dyke which, arresting the flow of the river, turns away 
the fury of its waves, with the motto : 

4 It restrains the course and turns it at pleasure." 

On the fourth and last fa9ade appeared the Saint when, in the act of 
becoming a nun, she receives the Carmelite habit, the sacred veil, and 
the sacred crown at the hands of the priest. To this corresponded, as 
an event of her ancestry, the mural crown given by the famous Conqueror 
of Jerusalem to Pazzo De-Pazzi, as a reward for his having first scaled 
the walls of the besieged city. The verses were as follows ; 

11 With a stately crown the brows are encircled 
Of the valiant hero De-Pazzi by the pious Buglione ; 
But Catherine covers herself with a despicable mantle 
And places herself in servitude. 
The one undertakes to triumph in the world, 
The other proposes to herself to serve God alone. 
Now let anyone who chooses compare this world with heaven^ 
A mural crown with a consecrated veil." 

The virtue of the Saint was represented by Piety ; and, of the two 
undertakings, one was the fish UranoscOpus, which, having but one eye 
in its head, comes up above water, to contemplate with it the beauty 
of the heavens, with the motto : 

"For looking thereat my desire finds rest" 

The other was the bird of paradise, which always, either balancing 
itself on its wings or flying through the air, disdains to rest a single 
moment on the ground. The motto was : 

" He clothed its feathers for a high flight." 

The frame of the first evening was very beautiful, and the fire 
works fully corresponded with the beauty of the exterior form. Filling 
the air with noise and light, these now went up like stars now ran 
along the ground and changed into springs and other very beautiful 
sights. Not less pleasing and ingenious, however, were the designs that 
were destined for the evenings of Monday and Tuesday, which I will 
consecutively describe, returning afterwards to complete the narration of 
the church festivities. 

The second frame represented a delightful place surrounded by 
walls, the better to express thereby the religious state, which, as a most 
charming enclosed garden, is wont to produce fragrant flowers of sanctity. 
It began with a large square base, which seemed to be of marble of various 
colors; on top of it ran an imitation balustrade of lapis lazzuli surmounted 
with gilt balls. On each of the four corners, which had little pilasters of 
marble variously colored, rested gilt vases emitting imitation flames. 
Above this first order was raised the second, in the same style of archi 
tecture, which for more artistic finish was gradually narrowed at the top. 
So also the third, from the base of which projected four silver dolphins, 
supporting a quadrangular pyramid or obelisk of porphyry color, at the 
summit of which was a globe with a cross, both gilt. The frame, made 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 323 

in Doric style, was about sixty feet high, and double this in cir 
cumference. It was everywhere adorned with the handsomest per 
spectives and pleasing foliage. On its four lower faces were painted in 
chiaroscuro four historical events taken from the pages of the Old Testa 
ment, representing events in the lives of the Prophets Elias and BHseus, 
fathers and founders of the Carmelites. On the four faces above were 
described as many events in the life of the Saint, corresponding to those 
of above-named founders, and all were furnished with appropriate Latin 
inscriptions. In the spaces between one and the other of these faces 
were four large placards, each containing an epigram, which, ingeniously 
explaining the historical facts, connected them together. A hard task, 
but very easy for the talent and erudition of the two renowned academi 
cians of the Crusca, Senator Vincenzo de Filicaja and Lawyer Benedetto 
Gori, who assumed the writing of these and the other compositions on 
the same frame. 

On the first front of the first order could be seen Elias lying down 
and sleeping under a juniper tree, whilst an angel, in the act of reproach 
ing him, was pointing out to him with his left hand the hearth-cake, 
and with his right the ridges of Mount Horeb, extending at a proper 
distance. In the front of the second order was painted our Most 
Amiable Redeemer, Who in the Consecrated Host was giving Himself 
to the Saint. The epigrams of the above-named academicians, tran 
scribed on the placards, had been translated from Latin into Italian by 
a good poet, and are reported here in the English language : 

EPIGRAM FIRST. 

The daughter is greater than the grandfather: 
And oh ! how far apart they run on the long road! 
He among flowers tends to Horeb , 
She by a hard road tends to heaven. 
Him a celestial messenger restores : 
Her the Eternal Love wishes to strengthen. 
Two such great events we dare not compare : 
One God commanded, the other God did Himself. 

On the second front below was represented Elias being carried up 
to heaven in a fiery chariot. Above it was the Saint in ecstasy, with 
her body raised in the air, at the foot of a Crucifix, on the entablature 
of the choir. 

EPIGRAM SECOND. 

A soul inflamed with the fire of divine love 

Lightly flies up to the ethereal regions. 

Elias, who is burning with such a fire, 

Leaves this earth and goes quickly up to the stars. 

Not less high, despite her mortal weight, 

Does Mary Magdalen upward soar. 

And as the flame which continually tends on high, 

Her love, which is heavenly, to heaven draws her. 

On the.third front below was Elias, who, covering Eliseus with his 
mantle, whilst the latter was ploughing his fields, makes him a prophet 



324 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

and declares him his successor in this high office. Above this was 
St. Mary Magdalen in the act of receiving at the hands of the Blessed 
Virgin a snow-white veil, to clothe herself thereby with the most spot 
less purity. 

EPIGRAM THIRD. 

A rude tiller of the soil receives Elias mantle, 

And lo ! the prophetic spirit through him speaks. 

A white veil covers a sacred virgin s heart, 

And it communicates to her such a virtue, 

That her spotless virginal flower 

Is worthy to enter into the crown of the great King of Kings. 

Let, therefore, Eliseus give way to her, he is not her equal ; 

To a man he owes the gift, she owes it to Mary. 

On the fourth, and last lower face was represented Eliseus, who, 
by the infusion of salt, was making salubrious the corrupted waters of 
Jericho. To this historical fact corresponded, in the face above it, 
that of the Saint, who, at the bidding of the superioress, with her mere 
blessing, brought back to its former good taste a keg of wine which had 
become spoiled. 

EPIGRAM FOURTH. 

The Hebrew was sad and grieved at the sight 
Of Jericho s fount giving forth bitter water ; 
And smiled when he saw quickly flowing from it, 
At Eliseus bidding, waters sweet as honey. 
And thou, O Saint, on hearing with sad countenance 
That the wine had become spoiled by musty taste, 
By the virtue of thy heart, candid and pure, 
Thou causedst all bad taste depart. 

On the first face of the third order, which by the same talent had 
been enriched with sayings from the Sacred Scriptures, on a beautiful 
label was written the dedication of the car, in the following 

EPIGRAM. 

Do not disdain this structure inferior to thee, 

Which it would be, even if it equaled heaven ; 

Here a low and humble Muse applauds and praises thee; 

Here a perishable brush describes thy deeds. 

See what has been the Sun of thy virtues 

Within the sacred cloisters, O immortal maiden / 
If a bright color suffices to paint others, 

Thy works themselves are but the image of thy soul. 

On the other three faces corresponding to the first were cartoons 
beautifully worked, with fanciful intertwining of festoons, with inscrip 
tions briefly indicating the interior consolations enjoyed by the Saint in 
the Religious life. The obelisk or pyramid, placed at the summit of the 
frame, was, according to the very old custom of the Egyptians, full of 
hieroglyphics alluding to the various attributes and qualities of the 
Saint in the same state. In the first of its quadrangular faces were rep 
resented the three fundamental vows of Religion Poverty, Chastity, and 




She restores several sick persons to health (page 331). 
324 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DK-PAZZI. 335 

Obedience. Poverty was symbolized by the moon, which, being of itself 
deficient in light, by looking at the sun s face, becomes at once full of 
luminous splendor. Chastity was symbolized by the girdle with which 
Jeremias girded his loins by divine command. Obedience was sym 
bolized by a cloud moved from place to place by the blowing of the winds, 
according to the saying of the Holy Ghost: "And the clouds, since God 
commanded them to go over the whole world, do that which is commanded 
them" (Baruch vi, 61). Three other symbolical figures were painted on 
the second front, expressive of the several states of the Saint, viz. : of 
Novice, of Professed, and of Office-holder in Religion. The Novitiate was 
symbolized by the sun bursting forth from the bosom of the morning dawn 
a thought not less gentle than appropriate, taken from the Canticle of 
Deborah, Book of Judges, Chapter V, 31, where it is said : "Let them that 
love thee shine, as the sun shineth in its rising" The Profession was 
represented by a tree in blossom near the running waters, an image taken 
from Psalm i, 3 : "And he shall be like a tree, which is planted near the 
running waters. One of the offices that the Saint filled in the monastery 
and the one best suited for her to fill with great merit for herself and 
very great profit for her more heavenly than human virtues, was the 
office of Mistress of the Novices. This was represented by an eagle 
flying slowly around the nest of her little ones, taking some of them on 
her own wings to teach them swift and safe flying. As we read in 
Deuteronomy xxx, u : "As the eagle entices her young to fly." 

A like number of symbols were painted on the third face, denoting 
the three special gifts obtained by the Saint, viz., Contemplation, 
Prophecy, and Prayer. Contemplation was represented by a dove, which, 
as a symbol of meditation, was seen by King Hezekiah, when, having 
recovered from his mortal illness at the backward going of the sun dial 
for ten lines, praising and blessing his benefactor, devoutly sang : "I will 
cry like a young swallow; I will meditate like a dove " (Isa. xxxviii, 14). 
And "We shall lament as mournful (the L,atin has meditantes) doves" 
(Isa. lix, n). And David : "Who will give me wings like a dove, and I 
will fly and be at rest f " (Ps. liv, 7) ; it being the prerogative of him 
who meditates to raise his mind to God and there take rest while con 
templating. The spirit of prophecy was represented by a cloud dropping 
rain upon the earth, a thought borrowed by St. John Chrysostom, who, 
in the Homily on Chapter VII of the Gospel of St. Matthew, thus 
speaks : "As the clouds carry the rain and let it flow upon the earth, so 
the prophets receive the words from God arid spread them iipon the 
reasoning earth (mankind). * The strength and ineffable virtue of prayer 
was expressed by the altar and the incense, as prayer, like odorous incense, 
is most acceptable to God. "Let my prayer be directed as incense in Thy 
sight " (Ps. cxl, 2). 

On the fourth and last face of the pyramid were represented the 
three special and most singular qualities of St. Mary Magdalen love of 
God, love of solitude, and tranquillity in tribulations and temptations. 
The love of God was represented by an iron made red hot in the flames 
of a furnace, for, as iron placed in the fire is entirely changed into fire, 
so the soul enamored of God, burning with the fires of a most ardent 
charity, becomes at once all fire and, consumed by fire, is all transformed 



326 THE LIFE AND WORKS OF 

into charity. This idea is found admirably developed in the works of 
St. Cyprian and St. Chrysostom. A young stag on a mount of aromatic 
spices represented Solitude, in accordance with what the Sacred Bride of 
the Canticles was wont to say to her Divine Beloved in the excesses of her 
mysterious love. The Tranquillity of the Saint appeared symbolized in 
a star of the first magnitude, the splendor of which could not be dimin 
ished by the thick darkness of the clouds approaching it from all sides, 
surrounding and trying to obscure it: "As the morning star in the 
midst of a cloud" (Ecclus. 1, 6). Such was the second frame, which, 
having been previously exposed to the public curiosity in the square, 
was illuminated on Monday evening to the very great delight of the 
people, who applauded the various and frequent changes of its fireworks. 
These showed the truly wonderful talent of the author, particularly those 
of the ball, which, being left for the last, all luminous, sprang, with its 
cross in the air, to an untold height, and there, bursting with a crash of 
thunder, emitted an infinite number of crackers and stars. These, wan 
dering through the* dark sky, besides illuminating its darkness by the 
brightness of their lights, opened in their fall, and each one dropped many 
other similar ones, though a little smaller, with repeated and brilliant 
effect. 

The third frame, destined for the evening of Tuesday, being intended 
to represent the state of the Saint in glory, looked like a majestic temple, 
the base of which, in imitation of Sicilian granite, had on its four 
facades four cartoons embroidered around with arabesques and with tassels 
of gold. At each corner was a pyramid in porphyry color, well pro 
portioned in its height and width. On this base appeared another order 
of architecture, which contained, in the middle of every facade, a me 
dallion with pictures of the Saint taken from the world to the bliss of 
paradise. It ended very artistically in four corners, upon which were 
stationed four gilt vases filled with flames. At the summit of the struc 
ture, which gradually became smaller and smaller, were four more pieces, 
isolated, and resplendent with gold, and which were placed there to sup 
port a cornice that ran all around. On this plane were dolphins, covered 
with gilt scales, grouped together and supporting a crown adorned with 
golden points and stars, and ending in a silver lily, which was raised 
above it a little less than two cubits. This frame was of Doric order, 
thirty-five cubits high and not less than fifteen wide on every side. Carlo 
Dati, with his admirable talent, assumed the task of illustrating it. 
This ornament of the Academy of the Crusca and of the city of Florence 
did his work to the full satisfaction of everyone s expectation. To com 
plete his praise, suffice it to say, that Louis XIV, King of France, without 
having seen him, desired to honor him with a large annual pension, his 
royal mind being moved by the worth of his works and the greatness of 
his fame. Here we should record the beautiful epigrams and mottoes 
which Dati composed in honor of the Saint and which were then placed 
on the cartoons and under the medallions. But these could not be 
obtained during his lifetime, he, in his extreme modesty, deeming that 
this production of his was not deserving of being printed. After his 
death, though they were several times asked for, the most diligent search 
fey his heir failed to find them. L,et the reader, therefore, take the 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 337 

description of this third frame, if not as I wish it to be, at least the best 
that I can make it ; and let him know that, as it surpassed in beauty and 
skill the other two, so it also was above them in inventive genius and 
abundance of fireworks, which lasted longer than the others, to the ever- 
increasing joy and amazement of the immense multitude which had 
gathered to witness them. 

Now, returning to the church feasts, the solemnity of the first day 
being ended with Vespers, no sooner did the light of the second day 
begin to break forth in the east, than the church was filled in an instant, 
for, the people who were waiting in crowds at its doors, were impatient 
to enter. It seemed to them as if the slowness of the priests did not 
second the eagerness of their desire, which had even unseasonably antici 
pated the rising of the sun. To form an idea of this joyous multitude one 
must reflect that the country around, the boroughs, the cities, and the 
chief castles of the nobility for many miles emptied themselves to fill up 
the city of Florence, and they and the inhabitants of Florence ran to 
St. Maria degli Angeli. I will not say the church, the courtyard, and 
the porch, but the very Pinti Street itself was far from being able to hold so 
great a multitude. Carriages could not approach it at all. Every morn 
ing during the celebration more than two hundred priests offered in this 
church the Divine Sacrifice. The number of lights was the same every 
day and every hour, and not one of them was ever allowed to be 
extinguished. The wax, all from Venice, provided for the occasion by 
the nuns, amounted to twenty-five hundred pounds, besides sixteen 
hundred pounds contributed by devout people for so noble an object. 
The Most Serene Grand Duke, with the Prince Cardinal Leopoldo and their 
Royal Highnesses, the Grand Duke s wife and daughter-in-law, followed 
by a splendid and noble retinue, came each day to pay their homage to the 
Saint. The majority of the Tuscan prelates came to Florence for the 
same object, and many also from outside of Tuscany did the same, the 
latter and the former being followed by not a few distinguished person 
ages. The Oblates of the hospitals, the girls of the conservatories of 
Florence, who, not being bound by a solemn vow, yet voluntarily pro 
fess to observe the monastic enclosure, left their cloisters and came early 
in the morning to receive Holy Communion at the altar of the Saint. 
The adjoining nuns of Candeli, having received permission from Rome, 
threw down a wall which divided the gardens of the two monasteries, 
and thus came also to pay their respects to the sacred body, kneeling 
before it nearly two hours, praying and reciting psalms. In the mean 
time, Sister Maria Cherubini De-Pazzi, a nun of the Ripoli monastery, and 
niece of the Saint (being a daughter of a brother of St. Mary Magdalen), 
was also granted the same privilege nay, more, for she received 
permission to leave her monastery and remain a whole day in the 
monastery of St. Maria degli Angeli ; which she did on the third day of 
Pentecost. She was taken there in a carriage by two ladies, with a nun 
as companion. She had not been able to get there at the time of the 
canonization on account of her health and her great age, which was 
eighty-five years. 

Let us now describe the second day of the celebration. At the hour 
of tierce, the nuns having recited in a low voice the Divine Office, Mon- 



328 THK LIFE AND WORKS OF 

signore Roberto Strozzi, Bishop of Fiesole, approached the main altar 
with great reverence, and, having knelt before the Saint, went to the 
episcopal throne, where he took the pontifical robes. He then celebrated 
Mass with the assistance of many priests and assistant ministers and a 
concert of four choirs of musicians, selected from the very best. The 
feelings of the people there assembled harmoniously corresponded with 
their melodious voices, and, contemplating the sacred body, they filled the 
air with the most fervent sighs, and moistened the floor with the most 
tender tears, either to ask for some grace through the Saint, or to offer 
their dutiful thanks for a grace already obtained. Father Francesco Maria 
Mancini, Provincial of the Minor Observants of Tuscany, spoke from 
the pulpit in honor of our heroine, restricting her most ample praises to 
a panegyric, but in language so sweet and persuasive that he won the 
hearts of his hearers to make the most enthusiastic declarations of esteem 
and love towards our Saint. At the proper hour Solemn Vespers were 
sung, the celebrant being the Archpriest Soldani, who took upon him 
self this office for the whole Octave. On all the days that followed, these 
same solemnities were carried out. Not to repeat the same thing, 
we shall simply recall the principal points of the other six days. On 
the third day, Pontifical Mass was celebrated by Monsignore Camillo 
degli Albizzi, Bishop of Vol terra, and a learned panegyric was delivered 
by Father Maestro Giuseppe Maria Quilici, Prior of the Carmelites of 
St. Maria Maggiore. On the fourth day, Monsignore Francesco d Elci, 
Archbishop of Pisa, celebrated Pontifical Mass, and the panegyrist was 
Father Agostino Maria di San Gerolamo, a barefooted Carmelite, Lector 
of Theology. On the fifth day, Monsignore Vincenzo Bardi, of the 
Counts of Vernio, Vicar General of Florence, ascended the altar to 
pontificate, and Father Basilio Paulicelli, a Theatine monk, was the 
orator. Oh the sixth day, the Very Rev. Dean Antonio De-Ricci^ after 
wards Archdeacon and Auditor of the Reformations, enjoyed the honor 
of being the celebrant; and the task of speaking was creditably dis 
charged by Father Costantino Fabbri, a Barnabite. On the seventh day, 
the Holy Sacrifice was offered up by the Very Rev. Canon Carlo del 
Vigna, who had once been the director of the nuns at St. Maria degli 
Angeli ; and the praises of the Saint were told by Father Bernardino 
Catastini, then Dennitor and later General of the Capuchins, a great 
man because of the extent of his knowledge and the exemplariness of 
his life. On the last day, which, being the crowning one, could not be 
less solemn than the first, especially on account of the commemoration 
being made by the Church of the Descent of the Holy Ghost on the 
earth, the Mass was celebrated, with eight choirs of musicians, by the 
Very Rev. Archpriest Soldani, director of the nuns ; and the last 
panegyric was recited by Father Giovannagnolo de Benedictis, of the 
Society of Jesus, a speaker of great renown for the soundness of his 
eloquence and his marvelous delivery. The Very Rev. Francesco 
Zappata, a Canon of St. Lawrence, having about this time returned 
to Florence, the Committee of the Feasts, not desiring that an orator 
of such great reputation should remain silent on so happy an occa 
sion, pressingly invited him to speak, too. He, on this same eighth 
day, kindly accepted the invitation, and, shortly before Vespers, fill-id 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 329 

the whole city with joy by adding to the eight panegyrics a sub 
lime and splendid oration, delivered by him in his usual graceful man 
ner, which was not the least commendable of his many rare gifts. 
Their two Most Serene Highnesses the Grand Duchess Vittoria and the 
Princess Margherita Louisa, with the ladies of their household, assisted 
at Vespers from the tribune. The Prince Cardinal (not a priest) gave a 
great example of piety. He received Holy Communion in the morning 
before the Holy Relic, returned again in the evening, and, having 
caused the church to be closed, remained there with his retinue a long 
time in most devout prayer. 

On Monday morning, the second day of Pentecost, before the rising 
of the sun, the nuns came out of the cloister in procession, and, with the 
same ceremonies observed when taking out the sacred body of the Saint, 
brought it back to their monastery. 



TRANSLATION OF THE SACRED BODY OF ST. MARY MAGDALEN 

DE-PAZZI. 

The generosity of the faithful, which had contributed so much 
towards the erection of the Saint s chapel, did not cease after the work was 
completed. The common desire to see it perfected in the most lasting and 
elegant manner caused other works of great value to be added to it, and, 
finally, Giovanni Battista Foggini, having been entrusted with its execu 
tion (he was a most renowned marble sculptor and metal-worker), made 
the magnificent bronze case, into which, under the main altar from the 
inside, was translated, and in which remains to this day, that most precious 
treasure the incorrupt body of St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi. This last 
translation from the old shrine, annually commemorated by the Church, 
took place on the 3ist of May, 1685, and was then solemnized by the 
Church for three days, the sacred remains being exposed to the public ven 
eration, and nothing was omitted which would contribute to make it 
universally and fully satisfactory. Innocent XI granted a Plenary Indul 
gence to all who visited the church with the dispositions required. The 
Archbishop of Florence, Giacopantonio Morigia, directed the celebration. 
The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimus III, his son Giovan Gas tone, and 
his brother Francesco Maria, afterwards a Cardinal, assisted at it with singu 
lar piety. The Grand Duchess Vittoria distinguished herself by removing 
from the head of the Saint the old crown, keeping it as a pledge of 
celestial favor and replacing it with her own hands by the gift of a new 
one set with most precious gems. Mention should also be made of the 
special demonstration of devotion towards the Saint made by Monsignore 
Gherardi, Bishop of Pistoja and Prato. He was not satisfied with having 
offered the Holy Sacrifice, but remained several hours kneeling before 
his great advocate. He insisted, moreover, in publicly serving as an 
acolyte the Mass said by a priest, to the great edification of the people, 
who look with enthusiasm on anything which approaches the example 
of our Divine Saviour, and easily profit by it. The learned Francesco- 
Gregorio-Pio del Teglia published for this solemnity an appropriate 
composition, dedicating it to said Prince Giovan Gastone. 



330 THE LIFK AND WORKS OK 

Now, supplementing the old knowledge with recent information, in 
order to make the description of St. Maria degli Angeli as complete as 
possible, we must add what follows : 

Over the door of the church is a fresco by Poccetti, representing 
St. Mary Magdalen the Penitent. In the interior, the first chapel on the 
right contains " The Martyrdom of St. Rpmolo," painted by Carlo Portelli, 
of Ivoro. The second chapel was lately adorned with gilt stuccos ; it has 
three paintings, representing St. Luigi Gonzaga, St. Raphael the Arch 
angel, and St. Anthony of Padua; they are the work of Giuseppe 
Piattoli. The third contains a painting by Alfonso Bosch i, which 
represents the Eternal Father and Jesus Christ crowning the Blessed 
Virgin. The fourth contains a painting by Pontorno, which repre 
sents the Madonna with her Divine Son, and the Saints Giovanni 
Battista, Pietro, Matteo, Bernardo, Paolo, and Caterina. In the fifth can 
be seen an "Annunciation" by Alessandro Botticelli. Over the door 
leading to the sacristy is a painting which represents the glory of St. 
Luigi Gonzaga, by Anastasio Bimbacci, restored in 1749 ^7 Agostino 
Veraccini. In the sacristy is the Madonna caressing the Infant, St. John 
; the Baptist, with St. Bernard and St. Peter, by Domenico Puligo ; the 
Madonna presenting the Holy Infant to St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi, a 
copy of that of Luca Giordano, which is in the tribune; and the Saints 
Pietro, Giacomo, and Gerolamo, by the Ghirlandajo school. The sixth 
chapel, adorned not long since with gilt stuccos and frescoes by Luigi 
Catani, contains a Crucifix carved by Bernard Buontalenti. The magnifi 
cent tribune of our Saint is still in the splendid condition above described, 
and those who have charge of it try with all possible diligence to 
preserve the cleanliness and the elegance of the ornaments, so that 
anyone approaching it is filled with unspeakable satisfaction and an 
irresistible inclination to spend some time there in devout prayer. In 
the seventh chapel is the painting of Blessed Bartolomea Bagnesi, by 
Giuseppe Calignon. The frescoes were executed in 1807 by Giuseppe 
Servolini, who represented scenes from the life of the Blessed One, 
whose body rests there. Opposite the sacristy door is the organ, adorned 
with a painting by Giambattista Cipriani, which represents our Saviour 
giving Holy Communion to St. Mary Magdalen. In the eighth chapel 
is a painting of the Vasari school, which represents the Martyrdom of a 
Saint. The ninth is adorned by a u St. Sebastian" in wood, at whose 
sides are "St. Roch" and "St. Ignatius," painted by Raffitello del 
Garbo. In the tenth can be seen "Christ Praying in the Garden," by 
Santi di Tito. In the eleventh is a painting on a board, attributed to 
Beato Angelico, representing the Crowning of the Blessed Virgin. The 
twelfth contains the Crib with many Shepherds, Angels, and Saints, by 
Cosimo Gamberucci. There is a hall in the monastery (where the sacred 
vestments are kept) in which are paintings by Cosimo Ulivelli. In the 
chapter is a painting by Pietro Perugino, of Christ on the Cross, with 
Mary Magdalen at its foot, and the Blessed Virgin, St. Benedict and St. 
John. In the refectory is the "Miracle of the Multiplication of the 
Loaves and the Fishes," by RafTaele del Garbo; and there are also other 
paintings by distinguished artists. 

Finally, we must say that an inscription at the end of this church 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 331 

mentions that, in 1796, Monsignore Martini, the most deserving Arch 
bishop of Florence, celebrated its consecration, adding to the title of St. 
Maria degli Angeli that of St. Mary Maddalena De-Pazzi. This had 
been previously adopted with constancy by the devotion of the faithful 
from the day that Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi, who now had become of 
common and almost unique invocation, was canonized. 

WONDERFUL THINGS WHICH HAPPENED DURING THE ABOVE- 
DESCRIBED SOLEMNITIES. 

As on the eve of the feasts of the Beatification of Mary Magdalen in 
Florence God was pleased to increase the oil of the monastery, so, on the 
approaching of the solemnity of the Canonization, a similar prodigy was 
wrought with the flour which the nuns were preparing for the extraor 
dinary needs of those days. From the inquiries made with scrupulous 
accuracy, and submitted to the judgment of His Eminence Neri, Arch 
bishop of Florence, an evident and miraculous increase of five bushels 
of flour was proved to have taken place. During the propitious octave, 
the sick by hundreds came suppliant to the sepulchre of our Saint and 
obtained the graces wished for. The blind regained their eyesight, as in 
the cases of Stefano Centeli and Donna Maria Tosci degli Onesti. The 
deaf had their hearing restored to them, as happened to Carlo Manzi and 
Luigi Bertieri. Isidoro Bencini, a dumb man, obtained the power of his 
speech ; Angelo Bagni, Francesco Fiaschi, Bartolomea Mugini, and other 
lame, crippled, and paralyzed people regained their activity. 

During the three days in 1685, when the translation was solemnized, 
many prodigies of this kind a 1 so happened, especially that of the flour, 
a large quantity of which, though already spoiled, not only returned to 
its primitive state of perfection, but increased in quantity, in a manner 
altogether wonderful and supernatural. This happened after mixing with 
it a very small portion of the other flour above mentioned (which was 
devoutly preserved by the nuns), and making over the whole the sign 
of the cross with an image of the Saint. 

CONCLUSION. 

L,ofty and celebrated shines the De-Pazzi family from its very 
ancient foundation, viz., from the year 920. During this year, according 
to the careful researches of some writers, and chiefly of Gamurrini, who 
gives the genealogical tree of this family, it takes its start from Buono, 
father of the Marino who was Governor under the Kings of Italy 
Beregario and Adalberto, and who was himself the father of Teobaldo 
the Lord of Classe, a castle four miles distant from Arezzo. This family 
afterwards divided into two branches, one of Florence and the other of 
Valdarno, both of which gave legions of illustrious men to the field of 
glory. They extended themselves afterwards into France, Poland and 
other far-off regions, and were always distinguished and decorated by 
the emperors, the kings, and the republics with eminent dignities and 
splendid honors. From the Cagliano Bridge to the gates of Florence, 
and in the city itself, they possessed, as independent lords, the strongest 



332 THE UFE AND WORKS OF 

castles and most magnificent palaces. In the Florentine Republic, belong 
ing to the small number of the nobles or magnates, they considerably sur 
passed others in the number of their titles. This distinction in a free city 
was equally as remarkable as it was dangerous, bringing both pomp and 
pain. (The authority of the laws in that popular government forbade any 
of the magnates taking part in the quinquennial elections. This excluded 
them from the enjoyment and the honor of the public offices, and put 
also a restraint on the licentiousness of the powerful ones, who, making 
too haughty a use of their high position to the harm of others, ruled 
their subjects at will and tyrannized over the unhappy people, without 
any fear of punishment and with a contempt of the courts.) The De- 
Pazzi, however, because of their personal merits, were not without 
important offices in this new state of things. Often they held the 
balance of power in the Republic. In the first centuries of aristocratic 
liberty they, among the ancient fathers, held the consulships; after 
wards, in the almost democratic republic, they sat among the principal 
rulers thirteen times, and were four times honored with the sublime 
office of Doge. Valiant men for wisdom and courage in arms, mag 
nanimous adherents of Italic parties, daring innovators, they reaped 
everywhere the glorious laurels of a faithful sword and an incorrupt 
wisdom. They became ambassadors, castellians, bishops, and orators 
near the Courts or the Pope. Cosimo De-Pazzi, at first Bishop of Arezzo, 
and afterwards Archbishop of Florence, was closely related by blood, and 
more by merits, to Leo X. He was endowed with so high a degree of 
eloquence, and enriched with such great learning, that he was several 
times appointed ambassador for his country, and turned at will the 
minds of the greatest monarchs by the great power of his words, thus 
obtaining what he wanted. Not a few orators could be numbered in 
the same family, for, at various times, some were found near the kings 
of England, of Poland, of Hungary, of Castile, of Aragon and of 
Portugal ; others near Pius II, Emperor Maximilian of Austria, King 
Charles VIII of France, the Roman Pontiff Leo X, and the Venetian 
Senate, treating of important affairs for the Florentine Republic, and 
they marked most of the days of their lives with victorious labor in 
behalf of their country. A certain Stefano was palatine of Troch, a 
Cristofano was a great general, and a Michele grand chancellor of 
Lithuania. 

Not less worthily than eisewhere and in other times, are now 
flourishing in Florence the sprouts of the ancient tree, who can feast 
their eyes on tokens of the greatness of their fathers within their father 
land, such as magnificent palaces and churches, the numerous styles of 
bucklers, the laurels, the mitres, and other marks of honor which are 
hanging before the images of their ancestors. 

But, beyond a doubt, the one who sheds the greatest splendor on this 
most noble and ancient family is St. Mary Magdalen, whose glory, it may 
be said, shines forth like a sun, powerful enough to eclipse every other light 
in the firmament of her lineage. It is true with her that "Etiam in cinere 
virtus" "Even in ashes there is strength," as is fabulously said of 
the ashes of the Phoenix. Mary Magdalen is the true Phoenix of Carmel ; 
for her remains still preserve the power of working miracles and pro di- 



ST. MARY MAGDALEN DE-PAZZI. 333 

gies. Her glory, far different from that of this world, crowned with 
earthly laurels, is a glory ever new, ever celestial. It never perishes, and 
must be acknowledged by everyone without exception. Her memory 
shines brightly through the generations and centuries, accompanied by 
her works of wisdom and love ; by the reverence, the gratitude, and the 
benedictions of antiquity, and saluted by the impartial admiration of 
posterity. Mary Magdalen, exalted and blessed in heaven, revered on earth 
by the religious love and veneration of men, who have raised in her honor 
churches and altars, offered hymns and prayers, sits now on a throne 
of glory, which surpasses all earthly imagination. Pure and everlasting 
is her glory, because pure and heavenly were the means by which she 
secured it. The knights of her family, like other similar knights, fought 
with material weapons for temporal ends; Mary Magdalen waged war 
with spiritual arms, overcoming her passions, triumphing over herself, 
for an eternal object. They fought to defend the rights o